Skip to main content

Full text of "Forensic medicine and toxicology. A comprehensive work on medical jurisprudence"

See other formats




OF ' 

^ 4 eg 

a (Cttt cx^Lx^j 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Open Knowledge Commons and Yale University, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library 



ABC I) E b 

Solar Spec6rwn 

Scarlet or oxidized 


Deoxidized /imtnoolobo 

after short exposure, 


ot ? Ur prolonged <-r/->< sure 
milt ., \nwwrua 

Aad' Au'»<t/'» 

Deoxidized h&molin 























" Sunt bona, sunt quavdam mediocria, sunt mala plura. 
Qure lfgis hie : aliter non fit, Avite, liber! " 




Successors to Lindsay & Blakiston. 





Tins Manual is from first to last a joint production, the authors 
holding themselves, in each and every particular, mutually respon- 

It claims to be simply a comprehensive Medico-legal Handy-book. 

Although its subject is legal medicine, it deals with the medical 
rather than with the legal. The authors have felt that lawyers know 
the legal aspect of the subject better than physicians, whilst phy- 
sicians know the medical better than lawyers. Recognizing, however, 
the existence of a part of the subject belonging to both lawyer and 
physician, but special to neither, they have ventured on this mid- 
territory, trusting that their medical view of the land in question 
may be found of service to those whose profession leads them to 
regard it primarily from a different point of view. 

It may be desirable to mention that in describing chemical reactions, 
the authors have usually adopted the trivial names for reagents rather 
than a strictly scientific nomenclature. This they have done advisedly, 
since in all probability the work will be as frequently used by those 
unfamiliar with modern chemistry as by the chemical student. The 
same remark explains the use of Fahrenheit degrees and avoirdupois 
weights in place of the Centigrade and metric systems. 

The authors are greatly indebted to numerous friends for sugges- 
tions, and in many cases for material assistance. Amongst others' 
must be specially mentioned, Mr. H. C. Sorby, F.K.S., for his help 
in the chapter on blood, Dr. Robert Barnes, Mr. Hutchinson 
(whose name was unfortunately omitted from the history of his own 
discovery of notched teeth at p. 634), Dr. Langdon Down, Dr. John 
Randall, Mr. Waren Tav, and Dr. John Stocker, Mr. Xeed- 
Ham (for drawing the plates of hairs), and Mr. Midwinter. They 
must, however, express how much they are indebted to the late Dr. 
Letheby for help and assistance in ways far too numerous to men- 


The authors desire to express to the Messrs. Churchill their 
thanks for the liberal manner in which they have met them in the 
matter of illustrations. 

As a matter of course the authors have made free use of the stand- 
ard works on legal medicine. To acknowledge at every point how 
much they have been indebted to the elaborate works of Alfred 
Swaine Taylor, Christisox, Orfila, Tardieu, Beck, Casper, 
Guy, and Wormley, would have involved mentioning their names 
on almost every page. The titles of their works will be found in the 
Bibliography appended. The brevity of this list is compensated in 
some measure by frequent references in the text and in the footnotes. 

That unavoidable mistakes in so complicated a work will have 
crept in, notwithstanding every care to prevent them, the authors can- 
not for one moment doubt. They trust some excuse will be found in 
the fact that the Manual has been written amidst the demands of pro- 
fessional work. 

Lastly. They dedicate this book to the memory of their late col- 
league and former teacher, Dr. Letheby. During his life he had 
taken a deep interest in its progress, and had given permission for the 
work to be dedicated to him. He had, moreover, consented to write 
an introduction. And now he is gone, the authors sorrowfully dedi- 
cate it to his memory, not merely in recognition of his having been 
one of the greatest English authorities on its subject-matter, nor as an 
acknowledgment of numerous acts of personal kindness, but more 
particularly as his pupils, whose first lessons in Forensic Medicine 
were his lectures, and in testimony of that to which a long race of 
London Hospital students can bear record, his ever ready willingness 
to teach, as well as his rare aptitude in imparting the knowledge lie 
himself possessed in so profound a degree. 

C. Meymott Tidy, 

48 Queen Anne Street, 

Cavendish Square. 

W. Bathurst Woodman, 

6 Christopher Street, 

Finsbury Square. 
March, 1877. 




The Coroner's Court — Inquests — The Superior Courts — Medical evi- 
dence — Fees legally claimed by Medical Men, ........ 25-30 


How to make a " Post-mortem " Examination — -Weight and size of vari- 
ous organs — Post-mortem Digestion of Stomach, . ... . 30-35 


Burying alive — Sisns of Death — Post-mortem temperatures — Rigor 
Moktis— Putrefaction — Adipocere — The order in which the signs 
of death succeed each other, 35-51 


What is a Poison? — Action of poisons — Circumstances modifying their 
action — Circumstances leading to the Suspicion of Poison having been 
given — Symptoms of Corrosive, Irritant, Narcotic, and Nar- 
cotico-Acrid Poisons — Treatment of Poisoning Cases — Conclusion 
from Analysis — How far Poisons are Natural Constituents of 
the Body — Post-mortem Appearances in Poisoning Cases — Dis- 
eases that simulate poisoning — Cases of supposed poisoning and 
malingering — Classification of Poisons^ ....... 



Systematic Chemical Analysis in cases of Poisoning, 



Phosphorus, its varieties, solubility, and the circumstances affecting its 
luminosity — Symptoms of Poisoning by Phosphorus — Treatment — 
Post-mortem appearances — Chronic Poisoning— The Lucifer Dis- 
ease — Prophylaxis — Tests for Phosphorus — Toxicological An- 
alysis — Cases of Phosphorus Poisoning, ........ 85-97' 




Chlorine — Hypochlorous Acid — Bromine — Symptoms — Iodine — 
Symptoms — Treatment — Post-mortem Appearances — Toxico- 
logical Analysis — Iodide of Potassium — Tests— Cases of Poi- 
soning — Fluorine — Manufacture of Superphosphate of Lime, 


Potassium — Sodicm — Ammonium — Lithium— Rubidium — Caesium, 





Barium — Symptoms — Experiments on Animals — Tests — Cases of Poison- 
ing — Strontium — Calcium, 120-125 



Antimony — Tartar Emetic — Symptoms — Treatment — Chronic Anti- 
monial Poisoning — Experiments on Animals — Tests— Toxieologi- 
cal Analysis — Chloride of Antimony — Arsenicum — White 
Arsenic — Preparations — Symptoms — Treatment — Post-mortem Ap- 
pearances — Chronic Arsenical Poisoning — Tests — Toxicological 
Analysis — Arsenic Acid — Arsenite of Copper, or Scheele's Green 
— Wall-papers — Tests — Orpiment — Realgar — Chloride of Arseni- 
cum — Arseniuretted Hydrogen — Iodide of Arsenicum — Bismuth — 
Cadmium — Cerium — Chromium — Bichromate of Potash — Chronic 
Poisoning — Cobalt — Copper — Red Oxide — Black Oxide — Sulphate — 
Sulphide — Nitrate — The Acetates — Chronic Copper Poisoning — 
Gold — Iridium and Rhodium — Iron — Lead — White Lead— Other 
Lead Salts — Symptoms — Treatment — Chronic Lead Poisoning — 
Action of Water on Lead — Post-mortem Appearances — Tests — 
Toxicological Analysis — Manganese — Mercury — Corrosive Sub- 
limate — Symptoms — Treatment — Chronic Mercurial Poison- 
ing — Experiments on Animals — Post-mortem Appearances — Tests 
— Toxicological Analysis — Calomel — White and Red Precipitates 
— Turpeth's Mineral — Vermilion — Nitrates — Cyanide and Sulpho- 
cyanide of Mercury — Mecuric Methide — Molybdenum — Nickel 
— Osmium — Palladium — Platinum — Silver — Thallium — Tin — 
Titanium — Tungsten, or Wolfram — Uranium — Zinc — Oxide — Car- 
bonate — Chloride — Sulphide — Sulphate — Acetate — Symptoms, etc. 
— Experiments on Animals — Test- — Toxicological Analysis, . . 125-227 



Sulphuric Acid, or Oil of Vitriol — Preparation — Properties — Symptoms 
— Treatment — Post-mortem Appearances — Te^ts — Method? of Dis- 


tinguishing the Free Acid from that in combination — Toxicologieal 
Analysis — List of Cases — Nitric Acid — Preparation — Varieties — 
Impurities — Symptoms — Post-mortem Appearances — Toxicologieal 
Analysis — List of Cases — Hydrochloric Acid — Preparation — Prop- 
erties — Impurities — Symptoms — Tests — Toxicologieal Analysis — 
List of Cases — Under these Acids, the Nuisances arising from 
their Manufacture are discussed — Hydrofluoric Acid — Nitro- 
sulphuric Acid — Nitro-hydroehloric Acid — Sulphindigotic Acid, . 227-263 



Narcissus — Rhus — Nerium — Oleander — Ilex (Holly) — Arum — Upas — 
Sambucus ( Elder)— Viburnum (Guelder-rose),— Ipecacuanha — Cin- 
chona — Quinine — Artemisia (Wormwood i — Absinthe — Lettuce — 
Harsh Marigold — Savin — Oil of Savin — Cases of Poisoning by 
Savin — Tew — Cases of Poisoning by Tew — Scammonv — Jalap — 
Sumach — Bryony — Bitter Apple, or Colocynth — Elatericm, or 
Squirting Cucumber — Black Bryony — Croton (Tigliumi — Cases of 
Poisoning — Euphorbia — Maoebineel, or Manzanilla — Physic Nut 
(Jatropha) — Castor Oil (Ricinns) — Ergot of Rye — Poisonous 
Fungi — Gamboge — Darnel — Camphor — Laburnum — Calabar 
Bean — Physostigmin or Eserin — Aloes — Aloin — Squill- — Lo- 
belia — Gelseminum — Nux Vomica and Strychnine — Brucia — 
Woorara Poison — Toxicologieal Analysis — Cases of Poisoning by 
Strychnia and Vermin-Killers — Sabadilla — Ver atria — Colchicum, 
or Meadow Saffron — Veratrum Album — White Hellebore — Vera- 
trum Viride, or Green Hellebore — Cocculus Indicus — Picrotoxin 
— Privet— Opium, and its preparations — Laudanuxi — Black Drop 
— Chlorodyne — Godfrey's Cordial, etc., etc. — Morphia — Cases of 
Poisoning by Opium, Morphia, and their Preparations — Aconite, 
or Monkshood — Aconitin — Cases of Poisoning by Aconite — Hel- 
leborus Niger (ChrUtmas Rose) — Stavesacre— Rue — Digitalis, or 
Foxglove — Digitalin — Belladonna — A tropin — Capsicum — Stra- 
monium — Thorn Apple — Daturin — Henbane ( Hyoseyamus) — Hy- 
oscyamin — Tobacco — Nicotin — Woody Nightshade — Solanin — 
Hezereum — Fool's Parsley — ^Etbusa Cynapium — Water Hem- 
lock (Cieuta virosa) — Conium Maculatum, or Spotted Hemlock — 
Conia — OZnantha Crocata — Hemlock — Water Dropwort — Other 
Poisonous Plants, 263-397 


Cyanogen and its Compounds — Chloride of Cyanogen — Hydrocyanic 
otPrcssic Acid — Varieties (Scheele's, Pharmaeopoaial, etc. ) — Symp- 
toms — Treatment — Post-mortem Appearances — Tests — Toxicologieal 
Analysis — Essential Oil of Almonds — Laurel Water — Aqua 
Laurocerasi— Cyanide of Potassium — Silvering Solutions — Ferro- 
cyanides — Sulphocyanides — Cyanic Acid, ..... 397-424 



Acetic, Citric, and Oxalic Acids — Binoxalate of Potash or Salt of 

Lemons, Salt of Sorrel — Pyrogallic Acid — Tartaric Acid, . . 424-433 




Alcohol — A my lie and M ethyl ie Alcohols — Nitrate of Amtl — Amy- 
lene — Benzol — Nitrobenzol — Anilin — Carbolic Acid — Bi- 
sulphide of Carbon — Chloral and Bromal — Chloroform — 
Ether — Creasote — Bichloride of Methylene — Nitroglycerin — 
Turpentine, . . . . . . . . . 




Cantharides — Cantharidin — Poisonous Food — Trichina Spiralis — 
Cysticercus — Measly Pork, etc — Flukes — Characters of Good 
and Bad Meat — Poisonous Fish, 




Carbonic Acid — Carbonic Oxide — Coal-gas — Nitrous Oxide — Pbos- 
j.huretted and Seleniu retted Hydrogen — Sulphuretted Hydrogen 
— Sulphurous Acid, 478-496 


Compound Poisoning, 496-497 


Hairs — Linen— Cotton and Woollen Fibres — Seminal Stains — Sper- 
matozoa — Bloodstains — Things which resemble Bloodstains — 
Spectroscopic Tests for Blood — Old Bloodstains — Blood in 
Urine — Blood-corpuscles — Measurement of Blood disks — Micro- 
scopic Examination of Bloodstains — Blood-crystals — Day's 
Test with Guaiacum — Teichmann's Test, 



Life Insurance — The Normal Man — Tables of Expectation of 
Life — Presumption of Survivorship — How to examine" Lives" 
— Height and Weight at Different Ages — Cases of Disputed 
Policies — Modes of Death — Sudden Death, .... 



Limits of Distinct Vision — Audible Sounds — Personal Identity 
in the Dead and Living — Male and Female Pelvis — Development 
of Fcetus — Measurements of Skeletons, etc. — Identity from 
the Handwriting — Sympathetic Inks — Footprints, . . 557 



Monsters — Hermaphrodites — Sexual incapacity — Impotence and 
Sterility — Unnatural Crimes — Sodomy and Paederasty, 





Pregnancy — Period of Utero-gestation — Signs of Recent Delivery 

in the Dead and in the Living, 602-625 


Malapraxis— Unprofessional Conduct — Fractures — Dislocations — 

Obstetric Cases — Syphilis in its Medico-legal Relations, . . 626-637 


Criminal Assaults — Indecent Exposures — Rape — Physical Sisns of Vir- 
ginity — The Hymen — Signs of Defloration — Diseases mistaken 
for Rape, 637-655 


Premature Labor — Abortion and Abortifacients — Infanticide — 
Proofs of Live Birth — Effects of Rk-pira i i >n on the Lungs, etc., 
— Concealment of Birth — Legitimacy and Superfcetation, . . 655-731 


Unsoundness of Mind — Idiocy — Cretinism — Mania — Monomania 
— Melancholia — Dementia — Epileptic and Hysterical In- 
sanity — General Paralysis — Feigned Insanity — How to 
Examine Lunatics — Certificates of Insanity — Feigned Dis- 
eases and Malingering — How to Make a Will — Disputed 
Capacity to Make a Will — Illustrative Cases, .... 731-815 


Death by Apncea — Drowning — Hanging — Strangulation — Suffo- 
cation — Smothering — Symptoms — Treatment — Post-mortem Ap- 
pearances of all these Modes of Death — Death by Poisonous Gases 
and Anesthetics — The Anatomy Act, 815-859 


Death from Lightning — Effects of Great Cold and Great Heat — 
Coup deSoleil, or Sunstroke — Burns and Scalds — Spontaneous 
Combustion — The Nature of Food — Starvation, Acute and 
Chronic, 859-931 


Mechanical Injuries — Wounds — Incised — Contused — Lacerated — Punc- 
tured, etc. — What Wounds are Mortal or Dangerous? — Dying 
Declarations — Of Wounds inflicted before and after Death — Gun- 
shot Wounds — Wounds and Injuries of Special Regions — Injuries 
to Head, Neck, Chest, Abdomen, Limbs, and Spine — Illustrative 
Cases — L'Enroi, 931-1054 




Plate I. — the stomach in poisoning by arsenic, . . . to face 142 


" III. " " NITRIC ACID, . . " 250 

" IV.— " " OXALIC ACID, . . " 428 


Plates VI, VII, and VIII. — microscopic appearances of human and , 

other hairs, to face pages 497,498,500 




ING GIRL), 31 
























































55. " " IN TEICHMANN'S TEST 526 


57. MALE PELVIS, 562 


59. CHANGES IN LOWER JAW BY AGE. ........ 568 




































. 612 

. 619 

. 620 


. 634 

. 643 

. 644 

. 645 


. 657 

. 658 

. 658 

. 659 

. 672 

. 673 

. 673 

. 674 

. 675 

. 680 

. 705 

. 706 

. 782 

. 821 

. 830 

. 1014 

. 1028 





The Coroner's Court — Inquests — The Superior Courts — Medical evidence — Fees- 
legally claimable by medical men. 

Forensic Medicine, or Medical Jurisprudence, may be said to include 
every branch of Medical Art, and every fact in the. wide domain of Medi- 
cal Science. A medical witness in a court of law ma)' be asked questions 
the correct answer to which may presuppose an almost omniscient acquaint- 
ance with the facts and theories of Anatomy, Chemistry. Medicine,. Sur- 
gery, and Obstetrics, and we may even add Technology; in order to the 
detection of crimes of all kinds, including the adulteration of food, and the 
complicated manoeuvres of the forger and the coiner. It is almost self- 
evident that such a "circle of the sciences," even if the authors were 
accomplished enough to undertake so gigantic a task as the digest of the 
whole, could never be comprised within the limits of a "handy-book." 
Toxicology alone has now a voluminous literature of its own, and is justly 
considered to be a special division of the subject. This wide field of study,. 
and the great length of the works which have been written upon it, deter 
many students and practitioners of medicine from undertaking the study 
of the relations of their art to the requirements of justice in civilized com- 
munities. They fear to begin the study of forensic medicine because it 
appears to them a labyrinth of undigested facts and theories far too be- 
wildering for men of average abilities and ordinary leisure. The evils of 
this state of things are at least twofold. First, many students are rejected 
at examinations solely on account of their shortcomings in this subject; 
and secondly, many medical practitioners are conscious of painful and 
ridiculous exhibitions of iguorauce in courts of law ; ignorance which it is 
to be feared has too often led to a failure of justice. The object which the 
authors propose to themselves in this handy-book is to exhibit briefly the 
outlines of the current knowledge of the day on those topics which are 
most frequently the subject of inquiry, and sometimes of controversy, during 
civil or criminal trials. 


Some of the chief practical issues which are to be decided by medical 
witnesses are : 

1st. Questions of personal identity of the dead or living. 

2d. The fact of death itself; and 

3d. The cause of death, whether by the ordinary course of nature, dis- 
ease, or violence (poison, or otherwise). If by any of these, what are the 
proofs ? 

4th. The questions of pregnancy, and its duration; legitimacy, and the 
capacity for procreation; and the proofs, if any, of crimes committed 
against morality and social order. 

5th. Disputed claims as to life insurance and survivorship. 

6th. Questions of malingering, and feigned diseases, and the capacity of 
prisoners to undergo certain sentences. 

7th. Questions of mental soundness or insanity. The capacity to make 
a will, or to manage one's own affairs. 

8th. More rarely the questions of forgery of documents, and adultera- 
tions of food and medicine, and 

9th. Questions of malapraxis. 

The Coroner s Court. Inquests. 

The first court to which you will probably be summoned as a medical 
witness, is the coroner's, the proceedings at which are generally known as 
an inquest. The summons you will receive should be in the form sub- 
joined : 

" Coroner's inquest at the in the parish of 

in the county of upon the body of 

" By virtue of this my order, as Coroner of you are 

required to appear before me and the jury at the place aforesaid, on the 
day of one thousand, eight hundred and at 

of the clock in the noon, to give evidence touching the cause, of the 

death of the a foresaid person ; and make, or assist in making, a post mortem 
examination, of the body (with an analysis of the contents of the stomach, if 
such be necessary), and report thereon at the said inquest. 

"A. B. 
" To Mr. " Coroner." 

Unless the summons be worded as above, it is not considered a medical 

You may receive this notice only a few hours, or even less, before the 
time fixed for the inquest. However short the notice, it is not safe to dis- 
regard the summons, as neglect not only entails a penalty of £5, but in the 
event of the case being carried into the criminal courts, you may lay your- 
self open to a reprimand from the presiding judge. The only legal excuse 
for your non-attendance is a summons for the same hour from one of the 
superior courts. It may, of course, happen that a medical man might be 
morally justified in refusing to leave a case involving risks to life, but such 
cases will of necessity be exceedingly rare. 

The Coroner's Court is one of great antiquity, and the statute upon 
which the proceedings are chiefly founded dates back to the fourth year 
of Edward I (statute 2). The coroner, who is supreme judge in his own 
court, can issue a summons for the attendance of any legally qualified 
medical practitioner. You must not, therefore, refuse to go, merely because 
you know nothing about the case. Your opinion may be required as a skilled 
witness upon collateral issues of fact or opinion. The ordinary fee for a 
medical witness is one guinea. You cannot legally refuse to make a post- 


mortem examination if the coroner requests it, and you cannot claim more 
than two guineas for your attendance and the autopsy, including a chemi- 
cal analysis of the stomach, etc. But it' you do not feel competent to make 
the analysis you ought to say so, and refuse to perform in a hasty and 
improper manner that which may involve not only the life but the repu- 
tation of others. A coroner may ask you to make a post-mortem exami- 
nation whilst the inquest is being held, and by artificial light. You ought 
to protest against this, as it is impossible to make a careful examination 
of the whole body in less thau an hour, and, if it be possible, daylight is 
always preferable. The yellow tinge given to the skin by certain poisons 
( picric acid, e. g. t, and the same tint produced by disease (e. g., jaundice"), 
may easily escape notice by caudle or gaslight. The principles which 
should guide you in giving evidence in the superior courts are applicable 
at inquests, and we shall, therefore, state them briefly in this chapter: 

I. Make yourselves as fully acquainted as possible with all the facts of 
the case on which you have to give evidence. Let your post-mortem ex- 
amination be a thorough one. {See Chapter II.) Do not, for example, 
make so serious a mistake as to neglect the examination of the head be- 
cause the death was a sudden one, and you found heart disease. Death 
is suddeu in some cases of cranial haemorrhage, and remember apoplexy 
may coexist with, or be caused by, poisoning. Carefully examine the 
clothing, if any, and all the surroundings of a dead body. You should 
also refresh your memory by a reference to some standard work on the 
subject, so as to know the views held by authorities. Even should your 
own opinion be the more correct one, it is not fair to an inculpated person 
to give it as if there were no other, when professional men of emiueuce 
may hold an opposite view to your own. 

II. Be punctual to the time appointed for the inquiry. 

III. Avoid all flippancy of manner. Possibly the inquest may termi- 
nate in a verdict of manslaughter or murder, and the case will then go for 
trial before a superior court. But even if no such serious issues are at 
stake, your own sense of propriety must lead you to spare the feelings of 
the relatives or friends of the deceased as much as possible, aud to respect 
yourself aud your oath by a decent and suitable behavior. At the same 
time, a man's natural manner is the best, and we deprecate all assumption 
of preternatural gravity. 

IV. Arrange what you have to say (especially the symptoms observed 
duriug life, aud the post-mortem examination) in a methodical mauner. 
You cannot be ton clear about date*. It is well to affix the day of the week, 
as well as that of the mouth, to every important event. 

Measurements, and the sizes aud distances of objects, should be given 
either from well-known standards, such as parts of an inch, foot, yard, and 
the like, or you may use, though less definite, such expressions as a finger's 
or hand's breadth. You may also compare the sizes of things with well- 
known objects, such as a sixpence or a shilling. 

In descriptions of injuries, it is better to take some bone (as a rib) for 
a starting-point than a more variable object like the nipple. 

V. Use the plainest English you cau,ai)d never strive to appear learned 
by the use of scientific or cant terms. Let the result of a blow be a bruise 
rather than a contusion ; speak of a blood-clot rather than of apoplectic ex- 

VI. Do not answer any question unless you both hear it and clearly 
understand it; and take care to give your own evidence so as to be heard 
and understood. Your evidence given in a village inn may be read and 
commented upon by the medical and legal professions throughout the 


VII. Never lose your temper iu the witness-box. Your best method of 
defeuce, if unduly pressed, is to be as cool and imperturbable as possible. 

VIII. Avoid prolixity and useless repetitions. Volunteer as little evi- 
dence as possible; but keep back no part of the truth, when issues are 
plainly put to you, as nothing can be more damaging to a case than the 
appearance of shuffling or evasion iu a witness. A medical or indeed a 
scientific witness should never show himself a mere partisan. You should, 
therefore, rather answer questions than volunteer statements in the ma- 
jority of cases. 

IX. Keep your opiniotis, together with all disputed circumstances, quite 
separate from those facts which you have yourself observed, or which are 
satisfactorily proved by the evidence. Thus there can be no reasonable 
doubt that belladonna aud prussic acid are deadly poisons in certain doses, 
whilst the precise manner in which they kill is as yet uncertain. Again, 
in a case of cut throat, the direction of a wound and its dimensions are 
simple matters of fact ; but the deduction that the wound iu question was 
inflicted by a left-hauded person or was homicidal or suicidal, will in many 
cases be a matter of opinion. 

X. Whilst avoiding undue hesitation, as you would avoid undue pre- 
cipitancy, take time so to frame your answer that it may convey your real 
meaning, and be easily understood. The use of exaggerated expressions 
should be avoided. For example, we once heard two medical men swear 
that iu a given case there was an enormous quantity of fluid iu the peri- 
cardium ; but on being pressed as to the quantity, they admitted there was 
only about two ounce*. 

XI. The law is very strict on the point of written notes. The witness 
is not allowed to read his evidence, although he is allowed to refresh his 
memory by referring to his notes. Further, all notes referred to in the 
witness-box must have been made at the time to which they refer, or im- 
mediately after ; aud if the notes themselves are to be admitted as evidence, 
they must be the originals, and not copies. You may not unreasonably 
ask, "Am I at liberty to quote authorities in the wituess-box ?" Opinions 
dirler as to the admissibility of evidence from books. As a rule, judges do 
not favor this, since you are called for your own knowledge of tacts, or 
your own opinions. Dr. Taylor states, very justly, that you ought to 
verify all assumed "quotations" before assenting to, or dissentiug from 
them, as counsel may either wilfully, or by mistake, misrepresent the 
author from whom they quote. Do not let auy authority, however emi- 
nent, ?hake you on simple matters of fact. 

Take care that your depositions are read over to you before signing 

XII. The highest legal authorities have decided that there is no special 
privilege attaching to medical men with regard to secrets of a professional 
nature. In other words, no practitioner can claim exemptiou from an- 
swering a question, because the answer may involve a violation of secrecy, 
or implicate the character of his patient or friend. This is the law; aud 
however it may be defended on legal grounds, we hope that there are 
many medical men who would prefer to sacrifice their personal liberty to 
their honor. For it seems a monstrous thing that secrets affecting the 
honor of families, and perhaps confided to a medical man iu a moment of 
weakness, should be dragged iuto the garish light of a law court. Our 
duty here, however, is simply to state the law. 

The Superior Courts: Subpoenas. 
Supposing the case iu which the inquest has been held ends in a verdict 


of manslaughter, or murder, you will probably have to appear at a police 
court, or before magistrates, and you will then be bound over to give evi- 
dence on the trial. Of this you will receive due notice. A sum of £20 
or £40 i> usually named as a penalty for non-attendance. No medical 
man is bound to attend a trial unless a subpoena has been placed in his 
hands a reasonable time beforehand. In civil cases a payment of some 
kind is needed to make the subpo?na binding. It is generally in the form 
subjoined, which differs but little from that used in the criminal courts : 

Vk tori v. by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great 
Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, To 

Greeting; We command you and everv 
of you, that all things set aside and ceasing every excuse, you and every 
of yon be and appear in your proper persons before our justices assigned 
to take the assizes in and for the county of at 

in the said countv, on the day of by nine of the 

clock in the forenoon of the same day, and so from day to day, uutil the 
cause hereinafter mentioned be tried, to testify the truth according to your 
knowledge, in a certain action now in our court before 
at depending between plaintiff and 

defeudant on the part of the and at the aforesaid dav by a 

jury of the country, between the parties aforesaid, in the action aforesaid 
to be tried ; and this you nor any of you shall in nowise omit, under the 
peualtv of everv of you of one hundred pounds. Witness, 

at Westminster, the day of in the 

year of our reign. 

A professional witness should ask for and obtain his reasonable ex- 
penses : and he is not bound in a civil trial, nor always in a police court, 
to give evidence until so paid. But when once sworn, he cannot legally 
refuse to give evidence as to matters of fact. If you are subpoenaed to both 
a civil and criminal case at the same time, you should attend to the 
criminal one, giving due notice to the counsel on the other case. If both 
subpcenas are for similar courts, then the monition from the Superior 
Court must have the first attention. If from two courts of equal authority, 
then the summons first received should be obeyed. You cannot recover 
any fees unless you are duly registered. The following are the fees legally 
claimable by medical men summoned as witnesses when there is no special 
agreement as to ieef. Set A Manual of the Lam affecting Medical Men, 
by R. G. Glen, LL.B., Barrister at Law : . Churchill's.) 

In the Superior Courts, and in Equity, £1 Is. a day, if resident in the 
town in which the cause is tried; £2 2s. to £3 3s. a day, if resident at a 
distance from the place of trial, inclusive of all except travelling expenses. 
If the witness attend in more than one cause, he is entitled to a propor- 
tionate part in each cause only. For travelling expenses, the amount 
reasouablv and actuallv paid is allowed, provided it does not exceed Is. 
per mile one way. In the Probate Court, £1 Is. a day, if resident within 
five miles of the General Post Office; £3 3s. a day, if resident beyond that 
distance I including board and lodging I. The same allowance for travelling 
expenses as in the Superior Courts. In the Divorce Court, £1 l". a day, 
if resident within five miles of the' General Post Office. From £2 2s. 
to £3 3s. a day, if resident beyond that distance including board and 
lodging). The same allowance as in the Probate Court for travelling ex- 
penses. In the House of Lords, physicians and surgeons V2 2s. a day. and 
£1 1*. a day for hotel expenses if from home. Apothecaries i'l Is. a day. 
and the same allowance for hotel expenses. Higher charges are allowed 


under special circumstances. Sundays do not count as time. The sum 
necessarily expended is allowed for travelling expenses. In the County 
Court, from 10s. to £1 a day. For travelling expenses, the sum reasonably 
paid, not more than 6f/. a mile one way. In the Admiralty Court, from 
£1 Is. to £3 3s. a day (including board and lodging). The same allow- 
ance as in the Superior Courts for travelling expenses. In the Bankruptcy 
Court, £1 Is. a day, if resident in the town in which the court is held. 
From £1 Is. to £3 3s. a day, if resident at a distance from the court (in- 
cluding subsistence). Travelling expenses Id. a mile one way, where no 
railway is available, or expenses actually incurred. In the Lord Mayor's 
Court, 10s. Gd. to £1 Is. a day, and the same allowance for travelling ex- 
penses as in the Superior Courts. The expenses of witnesses in most cases 
of misdemeanor, and in all cases of felony, are now allowed. On an ex- 
amination before a magistrate, a sum not exceeding 10s. Gd- may be allowed 
to a medical witness residing in the city, borough, or parish where the 
examination takes place, or within two miles thereof, and to such a witness 
residing beyond that distance a sum not to exceed £1 1,*. For mileage, 
a sum not exceeding 3d. a mile each way. Medical witnesses attending 
Courts of Assize, General Sessions of the Peace, etc., to give professional 
evidence, but not otherwise, may be allowed £1 1*. a day, with 2s. for 
eveiy night they are detained from home, and for mileage, a sum not 
exceeding 3d. a mile each way. Every legally qualified practitioner who 
has attended at a coroner's inquest, in obedience to a coroner's order, is 
entitled to a fee of £1 Is. for attending to give evidence, where no post- 
mortem examination has been made, and to a fee of £2 2s. for making a 
post-mortem examination, and attending to give evidence. No fee can, 
however, be claimed for the performance of a post-mortem examination 
instituted without the previous direction of the coroner. These fees are 
to be advanced and paid by the coroner immediately after the termination 
of the inquest. 

In a protracted trial it is not generally necessary that you should attend 
the whole of each day ; but it is necessary, in order to legally claim your 
fees, that you should attend the court at, or just before its first opening 
each day, when you can generally ascertain whether your evidence is likely 
to be required for that day. Fees are not recoverable from attorneys, but 
only from the principals in an action ; and it does not appear that large 
fees are recoverable at all. A skilled witness should, therefore, take care 
to be paid before giving his evidence, if he has any doubts of the honor 
of those retaining him. 


Examination of bodies found dead— Weight and size of various organs — Post- 
mortem digestion. 

How to make, a " Post-mortem" Examination. 

The first thing you have to do, when called to a case of supposed death, 
should be to ascertain the fact of death itself. (See Chapter III, on the 
Signs of Death.) Being satisfied that the body found by you is truly a 
corpse, it is well to observe some method in the post-mortem examination. 
The same general rules apply to all cases iu which it is considered advis- 



able to make such an examination, even when there is no prospect of legal 
proceedings. And the same habit of careful, minute, and methodical in- 
quiry will be of immense service to you in cases of severe injury or acci- 
dent, even when life is not extinct. Dr. Lethebv has shown ( " Lancet," vol. 
i. 1846, p. 410, etc.) that such a methodical inquiry, if you keep careful 
notes, will often save you much "badgering" and confusion when in the 
witness-box. He also points out that medical men are far too apt to draw 
hasty conclusions, and to assume, for instance, the reality of poisoning, on 
very insufficient evidence. We believe that there is much improvement 
in this matter in the thirty years which have elapsed since his paper was 
written. But there is still room for much further improvement. As re- 
gards post-mortem examinations, three or four general remarks seem desir- 
able before proceeding to more minute details, viz. : 

I. Before you disturb the body at all, carefully note its position and 
surroundings. Verv slight knowledge of drawing will easily enable you 
to make a rough sketch of the position of the body, especially as relates 
to articles of furniture, and the position of blood-stains, etc., etc. 

The following sketch will illustrate our meaning: 

Ground Plan (scale. _J th of an inch to the foot), 
l ■ 
a, cow-house: B, servants' bedroom ; c, kitchen; D, back-kitchen; fc, dairy ; F, table; G, dresser; 
H, parents' and Sarah Jacob's bedrooni- 

1, Parents' bedstead; 2, wardrobe; 3, corner cupboard; 4, the fasting-girl's bedstead; 5, head of 
bedstead, on which two lighted candles were placed in the evening and night-time of the last watch ; 
6, table; 7, 7, linen presses ; S, 8, the two chairs in which the nurses respectively sat and watched ; 
9, book shelves. 
[By kind permission of Dr. Fowler, from his Comphle Ifislory of the Welsh Fasting Girt, p. .50.] 

If you feel unequal to this graphic method, you can at least describe in 
words, and put down measurements in feet and inches. 

II. When you come to examine the body itself, proceed methodically, 
beginning with the outside, and going on to the inside seriatim. 

III. I>> t be satisfied with opening only one cavity, such as the tho- 
rax or abdomen. Let your post-mortem examination be "thorough." 

IV. Let your notes, however rough, be dated, paged, and have the name 
and address of the deceased, or some other fact tending towards identifica- 
tion, clearly marked upon them — and the time (if known) which has 
elapsed since death. 

We now come to matters of detail, and observe — ■ 

(1.) That you should carefully examine and note the attitude of the 
body, to see if there be anything suggestive of a struggle, or violent death, 
by poison or otherwise. Look for weapons, aud traces of blood, and for 


cups or bottles which may have contained poison. For example, prussic 
acid is often given or taken in beer, and arsenic in tea or coffee, or in solid 
articles of food. 

(2.) Is the body clothed? or wholly or partially naked? Are the 
clothes injured or stained? 

(3.) Note carefully the position of the limbs. Are they rigid? (See 
P. M. Rigidity, p. 40.) If the fingers or toes are clenched, see if there be 
anything held between them. Examine the nails also. In struggles, hairs 
or portions of skin or clothing may be found ; whilst in drowning, sand or 
weeds may be met with. 

(4.) Carefully note the color and expression of the face. Are the eyes 
"dreadfully staring" or "decently closed" (T. Hood)? What is the 
color of the conjunctivae? Are the pupils large, small, or unequal? Is 
the mouth open, or the teeth clenched ? Is there froth about the mouth, 
or any peculiar smell? (Chloroform, prussic acid, etc.) The face will 
generally be livid after apoplexy, death from suffocation (hanging, etc.), 
or where much struggling has preceded death, or in natural modes of 
death in which the lungs, right heart, and venous system are much gorged. 
It is, however, usually pale after death from acids, even prussic acid, al- 
kalies, most vegetable poisons, blows upon the epigastrium, and injuries to 
vital organs. On the other hand, in poisoning by alcohol, opium, the 
oxides of carbon, and chloroform, it may be either pale or red. In most 
violent deaths, and after severe hemorrhages, the features are convulsed. 
Apoplexy, opium, carbonic acid, and other narcotics, often give a calm 
look, whilst corrosive poisons, especially such as produce severe abdominal 
symptoms, frequently give a pinched and anxious expression, like the facies 

Note the condition of the gums and teeth. Has the tongue been bitten ? 

(5.) Now remove all clothes from the body. Carefully examine for 
scars, tattooings, nrevi, and other means of identification. Note if urine, 
iieces, semen or any other discharge have taken place. (See Hanging, etc.) 

(6.) Now note if the body be fat or thin- — take care not to mistake 
dropsy or gaseous distension for fat. Examine carefully for external 
wounds, marks of burns, blisters, etc. If you find any wounds in the 
throat or elsewhere, note their direction, and depth ; in other words, are 
they deepest from right to left or vice versd; how far do they extend, and 
if they were prolonged in the same line, where would the knife, bullet, or 
other weapon emerge? If necessary, dissect carefully to see what parts 
are implicated. Note if there be any marks of a cord round the neck. 
If you find a cord, note where the knot is, front or back, as in suicide it 
is generally in front. Note the condition of the edges of wounds — make 
incisions into bruises, and note the presence or absence of blood and clots. 
Dr. Letheby has pointed out that wounds inflicted after death generally 
dry and discolor rapidly upon the edges, "acquiring a brownish parch- 
ment-like appearance." 

(7.) Note all circumstances tending to throw any light upon the time 
as well as the mode of death. The chief of them are (1 ) the temperature ; 
(2) the amount or absence of rigidity ; (3) the extent of putrefaction or 
other change. (See Chapter III on Signs of Death.) 

(8.) You should now proceed to make an examination of the head and 
other organs in a systematic manner, as follows: 

First, make an incision from ear to ear across the head, down to the 
bone, and reflect the scalp. Before doing this, if the hair be very thick, 
it may be well, in a doubtful case of injury, to remove some of it, or even 
to shave the head. This is, however, very seldom necessary. Note the 
amount of blood in the scalp, and look for fractures or injuries to the 


outer table of the skull. Saw carefully round the skull, about half an 
inch above the meatus auditorius exteruus, remove the calvaria,* and 
note the condition of the dura mater. The dura mater should now 
be carefully cut round with a probe-pointed scissors or bistoury, and 
the condition of the arachnoid and pia mater noted. Now remove the 
bruin carefully — note the condition of its base, and of the sinuses there, 
and proceed to slice the brain. The principal appearances to look for are, 
congestion, extravasation, such as apoplectic clots, effusion of serum or 
blood, lymph, pus, hydatids, aneurism or blocking of vessels, and tumors 
i malignant or simple).")" 

(9.) Now proceed to the examination of the spinal cord and its mem- 
branes — sawing or otherwise cutting through the lamina? of the vertebra? 
on each side of the spinous processes with great caution ; make sections of 
the cord at different parts. Carefully note the appearances (if blood wells 
up, etc.). 

(10.) Now proceed (turning the body oven to the examination of the 
chest and abdomen. Make a long incision from a little above the top of 
the sternum down to the pubes. Cut through and reflect muscles and in- 
teguments as low as the ensiform cartilage — afterwards reflect only the 
skin from thence to the pubes. With your thumb on the back of your 
knife, and its edge lateralized, cut carefully through the sternoclavicular 
ligaments, and the cartilages of the ribs. In very old people, or if ossifi- 
cation of these cartilages has occurred, cutting pliers or a saw may have 
to be used. Note if blood flows freely from the cut integuments. Be 
very careful not to wound the large veins of the neck, etc. Reflect the 
sternum, and note if the lungs be collapsed or fill the chest. Are the 
lungs adherent? Is there any fluid in the pleural cavities, or in the peri- 
cardium?!; Are the heart's cavities full or empty? What is the color 
of the lungs and of the blood in the heart, etc.? Is it coagulated ? Ex- 
amine all the large vessels. Also the whole of the air-passages. It may 
be necessary to prolong the first incision in the skin up to the chin, then 
reflect the skin as far back as possible, plunge the knife in just under and 
below the symphysis of the jaw, so as to emerge in the mouth, carry it along 
close to the iuuer surface of the lower jaw on each side as far as the bone 
extends, then seize the tongue from below, and divide the velum pendu- 
lum palati with your knife, dragging the tongue forward all the time, 
then separate the pharynx, etc., and then continue to make traction on the 
tongue till the pharynx, larynx, trachea, and oesophagus have been re- 
moved. Open the larynx and trachea and look for foreign bodies, false 
membranes, marks of corrosion, etc. Slit up the bronchi in the same way, 
and make sections of the lungs. 

As soon as the thorax is empty, examine further for fractures or disease 
of ribs or vertebrae. 

* This word, which is feminine, is often written calvartum, as if neuter. Dr. 
Ma} ii'- Fays it is derived from calveo, to be bald, because it is the part first affected 
with baldness It is the anatomical name for that portion of the skull which is 

above ll ar>. orbit*, temples, and occipital protuberances. Celsus use^ it tor the 

skull Hence, too, " Calvary," " the place of a skull," in our English version of 
the Bible, the original being " Golgotha." 

f During the examination of the head, this part should be raised. The body 
should be disturbed as little as possible, and a plug should be inserted in the large 
vessels, so a* t" prevent blood running out. Some recommend opening the chest 
first, and noting if the heart be full or empty, then opening the skull. 

X Before removing either lungs or heart for these purposes, they must be ex- 
a mined in situ. You should examine all the large vessels, and also the coronary 
Carefully note any abnormalities of structure which may be present (as 
in cyan 


(11.) Now proceed to the examination of the abdomen, uoting its con- 
tents, and the general appearance of the viscera and peritoneum. Look 
for strangulation of intestines, intussusceptions, internal hernia 1 , etc. If 
you find blood, look for lacerations of the liver, spleen, kidneys, etc. Never 
forget to examine the pelvic organs, and particularly the bladder, ovaries, 
and uterus. Young women sometimes die suddenly of apoplexy of the ovary 
or of pelvic hematoceles. Fatal injuries may be inflicted through the anus 
(Edward II), or the vagina, or labia pudendi, and poisons have even been 
introduced iu this way. (Ed. " Med. and Surg. Jour.," vol. xxxv, p. 85.) 

After poisoning by arsenic, the intestines are sometimes yellowed by 
formation of orpiment. Sulphuric and other mineral acids may cause a 
blackened or bluish appearance. Iron salts cause greenish or blackish 
coloration. Place a ligature around the oesophageal end of the stomach, 
and two around the first part of the duodenum. Remove the stomach, 
cutting between the two ligatures last tied. Note its exterual color, appear- 
ance, and smell, and put it unopened into a clean bottle or jar, and seal 
it up for further examination. Besides sealing, it must be so labelled as 
to prevent any mistake. The stomach itself should afterwards be care- 
fully examined with a lens and the finger, for solid particles of phospho- 
rus, arsenic, corrosive sublimate, or other poisons, for seeds and portions 
of leaves, crystals, pigments, or articles of food, and for the condition of 
its mucous membrane. 

The contents of the duodenum, and of the rectum, together with the 
stomach, and portions of the liver, or other organs should be put in clean 
wide-mouthed bottles or jars, and duly labelled and sealed. Thewhole of 
the intestinal tract must be examined. You ought to be familiar with the 
appearauces produced by syphilis, tubercle, typhoid fever, etc., and as 
regards ulcers and perforations, we may remark that auy person familiar 
with the post-mortem room, can scarcely mistake the rounded and thick- 
ened edges of chronic ulcers for the thinned and frayed condition of the 
perforations caused by corrosive fluids and irritant poisons. On the other 
hand great care should be taken not to cut or tear the orgaus in removal. 
Do not forget to examine the oesophagus as well as the mouth and pharynx. 
In examining the latter, great assistance may be derived from the large 
mirror of the laryngoscope. 

The following are the average weights and measurements of the viscera 
in health. Some allowance must be made for extremes (either way) of 
height and weight. The measurements are in inches: 

Heart — Adult Mule, 11 oz. 1 Usually about the size of the 

'■ " Female, .... 9 " / closed fist (5 x 3J x 2J). 

Brain— Adult -Male, 49J " 

" " Female 44' " 

Spinal Cord, ... 1 oz. to 1| " 18 inches long. 

Liver, 50 " " fiO ■' 12x4x2. 

Pancreas, .... 2} " " 3J " 

Spleen 5 " " 7 " 

Lungs— Adult Male, .... 45 " \ T ther 
" Female, ... 32 " / l0 S etner - 

Thyroid body, . . . . 1 oz. to 2 " 

Thymus at birth, J " 

Kidneys, together, 9 " (4J x 2J x 1 each). 

Suprarenal capsules, .... 2 drachms. 

Prostate gland, 6 " 

Testicles, together, . . £ oz. to 1 oz.* 

tt • . j . f 7 to 12 drachms 1 „ , • , „ 

Ummpregnated uterus, ... ■{ ,..,, U s2 x I inches. 

1 = (ora little more. J 

[These weights are chiefly taken from " Quain's Anatomy," 7th ed ] 
* Mr. Curling states the average weight of a healthy testicle to be drachms. 


In the examination of the abdomen, the caution given under the head- 
ing of post mortem stains or hypostases is especially necessary, namely, 
not to confuse those which are found in the most dependent parts with the 
effects of inflammation, either from natural causes, or from violence or 

As regards the stomach, it is also very necessary to remember that 
brandy and other stimulants given just before death, produce reddening 
of the mucous membrane. The stomach also undergoes digestion, or post- 
mortem solution, which appears to have attracted the attention of John 
Hunter, whose description is subjoined. He says: "There are very few 
dead bodies in which the stomach at its great end is not in some degree 
digested ; and one who is acquainted with directions can easily trace these 
gradations. To be sensible of this effect, nothing more is necessary than 
to compare the inner surface of the great end of the stomach with any 
other part of its inner surface, the sound portions will appear soft, spongy, 
and granulated, and without distinct bloodvessels, opaque and thick, while 
the others will appear smooth, thin, and more transparent, and the vessels 
will be seen ramifying in its substance ; and upon squeezing the blood which 
they contain from the larger branches to the smaller, it will be found to 
pass nut at the digested end of the vessels, and to appear like drops on the 
inner surface." (Hunter's "Animal Economy." Owen's edition, p. 119.) 
If this digestion has been active, the stomach is often found perforated, 
and its contents escaped. Dr. Fenwick (" Morbid States of the Stomach and 
Duodenum," pp. 42-47) enters into this subject with some detail. In per- 
sons suddenly killed, as by lightning, whilst digestion is going on, in 
phthisis and other diseases with acid dyspepsia, and in persons suffering 
from cerebral disease, especially in warm weather, this post-mortem diges- 
tion will be most conspicuous. 


Burying alive — Signs of death — Post-mortem temperatures — Post-mortem 
rigidity — Putrefaction — Adipocere — Order of signs of death. 

There is a widely prevalent idea that premature interment, or in other 
words, " burying alive," is a common practice. Careful and unprejudiced 
inquiry leads to the conclusion that the frequency of this event has been 
enormously exaggerated. Yet it can scarcely be doubted that in hot 
countries, and sometimes even iu temperate climes, persons who were not 
really dead have been buried ; either from fear of contagion, during the 
prevalence of epidemics such as cholera, the plague, and other infectious 
diseases; or sometimes from worse motives, by interested relatives; at other 
times, particularly in hot countries, from the practice of burving on the 
day of, or the day after, death. The most important prizes at the disposal 
of the Paris Academy of Sciences in 1873 were those founded by the Mar- 
quis d'Ourches in reference to this very subject. The principal prize was 
a sum of 20,000 francs (£800) " for the discovery of a simple and popular 
mode of recognizing the signs of real death, in a certain and indubitable 
manner, a method which may be put into practice by poor uneducated vil- 
lagers." The other prize of 5000 francs (£200) is to be given for " the 
discovery of a scientific method of recognizing with certainty the signs of 


actual death." The great prize has not yet been awarded, and only a por- 
tion of the smaller one. In Great Britain interment is seldom so rapid as 
in foreign countries, and it is therefore seldom possible for so horrible a 
catastrophe as the burying of the quick with the dead, to occur. The 
question of the reality of death, which is far from being so simple as popu- 
lar proverbs "dead as a door-nail," and the like would seem to imply, is 
however likely to be frequently referred to the medical practitioner, on one 
or more of the following occasions : 

1st. Those who have a great dread of being thus untimely disposed of, 
sometimes ordain by will, that before being "fastened down in their cof- 
fins," their bodies shall be examined by one or more competent medical 

2d. During cold weather, the signs of putrefaction are very slow in ap- 
pearing ; and certain modes of death are either so quick and painless, or 
so gradual and imperceptible in their progress, that the external appear- 
ance of the corpse differs little from that of the living person. Anxious 
relatives are therefore unwilling to lose their "beloved dead " out of their 
sight, unless skilled medical opinion declares the reality of death. 

3d. Although really included in the last heading, it may perhaps be 
worth noting separately, that certain accidents, such as railway collisions, 
producing shock or concussion, and compression ; and mining accidents, 
or the effects of poisonous gases, often lead to medical men being consulted 
as to the reality of death, by the officials whose duty it is to provide for 
the safety of the wounded and injured. 

4th. There are cases in which the singular phenomena commonly known 
as "a trance," have preceded death, or are suspected to exist. 

5th. In some cases of succession to property of large amount, a medical 
witness may be asked to certify the reality of death. There may be other 
reasons not mentioned, but in any case the duty of the medical man, in 
the present state of our knowledge, is clearly not to be satisfied with any 
one, or even two of the ordinary signs of death; but to refuse a certificate of 
death in all cases where a majority of the signs mentioned below are absent. 
It is surely better to wait a few hours, or even days, than to incur so hor- 
rible a risk. 

What then are the "Signs of Death?" 
Briefly they are as follows: 

1st. Entire cessation of the heart's action, not for a few seconds only, but 
continuously. Mere absence of the pulse at the wrist, or even in other 
arteries, is not enough, as this may be found in cholera, abdominal col- 
lapse, and other kinds of shock, etc. Careful auscultation and palpation 
of the cardiac region, in a quiet room, can alone decide the absence of 
cardiac action. In doubtful cases it would be better to employ acupunc- 
ture of the left ventricle, and the stimulus of a galvanic shock to the car- 
diac region. It is well known that two sounds are caused by the heart's 
working, which have been compared to lub-diip'p, lubdup'p, etc., but in 
cases of great weakness, only the second sound may be audible — a blow- 
ing sound (bruit) possibly replacing one or both of these in cases of valvu- 
lar disease of the heart, of great anaemia (poverty of blood). Dr. G. W. 
Balfour has pointed out that fine needles with little cork or paper flags 
will often render cardiac movements visible where not previously so. It 
is doubtful, however, if this be available in cases such as we are describ- 
ing. It should be remembered that there is a " pulse " wherever an artery 
is superficial enough to communicate its stroke to the exploring finger, as 
in the facial, the carotids of the neck, the brachial, radial, ulnar, femoral, 


popliteal, and anterior and posterior tibial arteries. N. B. Negative evi- 
dence from stethoscopic examination of the heart, great vessels, or lungs, 
can only he considered decisive when done some hours after the supposed 
death. There are many instances on record of recovery of infants and 
young children after the heart had apparently ceased to heat for at least 
a quarter of an hour. (See Drowning.) The phenomena of hibernation 
must not be forgotten. M. Bouchut state- that the marmot or mountain 
rat during its torpid state has only some 8-10 beats of the heart per minute, 
whilst at other times the heart-beats are 80-90. He further states that in 
syncope the beats of the heart can almost always be heard by an expe- 
rienced ascultatoi in a quiet room. Dr. Taylor recommends half an hour 
to be spent in auscultation. It would surely be better to auscultate at in- 
tervals of half an hour or more. The heart, and particularly its right 
auricle, " ultimum moriens," seems to have a life of its own. distinct from 
the great nervous centres, and continues to beat or contract even when cut 
into fragments, for some minutes after its removal from the body. The 
presumption of death when this last part of the body to die, no longer 
gives signs of life, must, therefore, be very strong. The case of Colonel 
Townshend,* who coidd voluntarily suspend the action of his heart, should 
not be forgotten here. 

lid. Entire cessation of respiration. The act of breathing is so eminently 
a vital one, that any long suspension of this function (See Drowning) can- 
not but be fatal. Here again the stethoscope should be used, as careful 
auscultation is far more likely to detect the sounds caused by air, or air 
aud mucus, or other fluids traversing the air-tubes, than any other means. 
The use of a looking glass, to condense the moisture of the breath, aud of 
a feather or other light body to indicate the movements of air, are popular, 
but not very satisfactory methods of ascertaining the continuance or other- 
wise of respiration. There is a peculiar mode of breathing known by the 
name of " Stokes-Cheyne respiration," sometimes seen in cardiac and 
cerebral disease, rarely in fevers, in tubercular affections, aud perhaps 
other maladies, which may deceive an incautious observer. The patient, 
iu such cases, breathes at first so slightly as scarcely to seem to breathe at 
all, each succeeding inspiration is a little deeper until a maximum is 
reached, aud then each breath that follows becomes shallower aud shal- 
lower, till at last the patient may again appear not to breathe at all — then 
a feeble inspiration is taken, followed by another a little stronger, indicat- 
ing the commencement of a new series like the former. 

Hid. Changes in and about tlie eye. These consist of (1) an entire loss 
of sensibility to light. The pupil no longer contracts or dilates according 
to the amount of light thrown upon it. The best mode of testing this is 
known to ophthalmic surgeons as " oblique illumination." A bright light 
is placed on one side of the eye to be examined, and its rays brought to a 
focus by means of a double convex lens of about two inches focus, aud the 
lens and light so disposed, that this focus falls upon, or nearly coincides 
with, the pupillary aperture. When no change is produced, the iris re- 
maining immovable, we may then usually conclude that life is extinct. Ad- 
hesions of long standing, belladonna or its alkaloid atropin and calabar 
beau may, however, greatly afiect the mobility of the iris, as is well known. 
Alcohol aud some other poisons also produce similar effects. I 2.) There is 
an entire loss of sensibility to touch in the ocular conjunctiva?. This is, 
however, equally true of a period in epileptic fits, and in some cerebral in- 
juries. (3.) The conjunctiva covering the sclerotic soon begins to show a 
gray cloudy discoloration on its external portion, which soon becomes 

* See Dr. George Cheyne's Treutise on Nervous Diseases, p. 307. 



blackish. This is quickly followed by a similar stain on the inner side. 
M. Larcher, who first pointed this out, considers the phenomena to be due 
to cadaveric imbibition, and probably dependent upon putrefactive changes. 
" These two spots extend and approach each other, forming the segment 
of an ellipse." (4.) The cornea speedily loses its transparency, in other 
words, the eye has lost its lustre. This may, however, take place during 
life, as is repeatedly seen in cholera, and other diseases. (5.) The eye 
soon becomes sunken in its socket, and the globe itself becomes flaccid, so 
as to retain the dint or mark of any pressure made upon it. "Loss of 
tonicity, or minus tension," is, however, met with in some diseases of the 
eye. (6.) Supposing the cornea to be clear enough to allow of ophthal- 
moscopic examination, it is stated by M. Poncet that the yellowish-red of 
the living fundus of the eye, is changed at the moment of death to a yel- 
lowish-white, or paler hue. M. Bouchut states that beads of air or gas, in 
other words an interrupted column of blood, will be seen in the retinal 
veins resembling bubbles of air in the colored fluid of a spirit thermometer, 
or the beaded appearance familiar to us in nerve tubes. (Pneumatosis of 
retinal veins.) (7.) At the same time, the eyelids will have lost their 
elasticity — neither they nor the globe of the eye moving any longer. (8.) 
It is said that atropin and calabar bean no longer produce the dilatation 
and contraction which are their respective property. This is quite true of 
a body dead some days, but not always true of one dead only a few hours. 
(9.) Electric and mechanical stimuli equally fail to aflect the eye of one 
dead some time. 

IVth. Changes in the temperature of the body. Gradual cooling or loss of 
heat is the most common change after death. In some diseases, however, the 
temperature of the body actually rises after death. This is particularly the 
case in yellow fever (as pointed out by Dr. Bennett Dowler), cholera, rheu- 
matic fever, tetanus, and other injuries to the nervous system, small-pox, 
and some abdominal diseases, where a rise amounting to 9° F. (or 5° C.) 
has been noted after death. It is probable (as the blood is no longer cooled 
in the lungs) that there is a slight post-mortem elevation of internal tem- 
perature in all cases of death. Be this as it may, it is a familiar observa- 
tion that within a few hours of death the body cools, more or less rapidly 
according to the external temperature, the amount of clothing, and other 
accidental circumstances. In the case of Gardner, a chimney sweep, 
charged with the murder of his wife, and convicted in October, 1862, Mr. 
Sequeira, the medical man first called in, stated that she must have beeu 
dead at least four hours, as the body, lying on a wooden floor, covered only 
with a flannel petticoat and a chemise, was quite cold and rigid. She had 
lost a large quantity of blood from a wound in the throat. This led to a 
number of observations on the temperature of dead bodies by Drs. Wilks 
and A. S. Taylor (See "Guy's Hospital Reports," Oct. 1863, p. 184, for the 
details), who give the following table : 

First period, 
2 to 3 hours. 

Second period, 
4 to 6 hours. 

Third period, 
6 to 8 hours. 

Fourth period, 

12 hours or 


Number of observations, 





Maximum temperature of 
Minim vim temperature of 
Average temperature, 

F. C. 
94° 34 4° 

00° 15.5° 

77° 25° 

F. C. 

80° 30° 

02° 10.0° 
74° 23.3° 

F. C. 

80° 26.6° 

60° 15.5° 
70° 21.1° 

F. C. 

79° 26.1° 

56° 13.3° 
69° 20.5° 



These observations were made by simply placing the bulb of a thermometer 
on the skin of the abdomen. They found internal temperatures of 7(5° F., 
seventeen and eighteen hours after death, and of 85° F., teu hours after 
death. Very numerous observations have been made on the subject by 
Messrs. Durand and Liuas. The result of their experiments seems to be 
that from eighteen to twenty-four hours are required for the bod)', under 
ordinary circumstances, to cool down to the temperature of the surround- 
ing atmosphere.* In summer in hot days a temperature of '25° C. (77° F.) 
is not uncommon, whilst an instance is recorded of a frozen woman restored 
to life by warmth, whose temperature was only 20° C. (68 D F.). M. La- 
borde has stated that iu five to eight hours the temperature of the deeper 
tissues in the dead body tails to 27° or 28° C. (=80.6° to 82.4° F.). But 
Dr. F. Niderkorn (" De la Rigidite eadaverique chez 1'homme," Paris, 1872) 
shows that iu six cases, taken indifferently six to eight hours after death, 
the rectal temperature averaged 32.6° C. (90.6° F.) and nine cases, in 
twelve to fourteen hours after death, gave a rectal temperature of 31.8° 
C. (89.2° F.). As these observations have not been published in English, 
we subjoin a summary of his observations — which are taken seriatim from 
135 persons dying of various diseases They differ from those of Drs. 
Wilks and Taylor by being taken in the axilla and at Paris: 

Temperature of 
body after death. 

2 to 4 hours. 

4 to 6 hours. 

6 to 8 hours. 

8 to 12 hours or 




109 4° F. 
89.6° F. 
9tj.9° F. 

43° C. 

32° C. 


98.2° F. 
80.6° I-'. 
90.2° F. 

36.8° C. 
27° O. 
32.3° C. 

95.3° F. 
70.5° F. 
81.7° F. 

35.2° C. 
21.4° C. 
27.6° C. 

100 4° F. 
62.6° F. 
77.9° F. 

37.8° C. 
17° C. 
25.5° C. 

The following seem the chief practical conclusions from these and other 
facts collected on this subject: 

1st. That even in winter the human body generally takes several hours, 
certainly not less than four, and sometimes twelve or even more (Nysten 
says "three days in eases of asphyxia"), to cool down to the temperature 
of the surrounding air, especially if internal temperature be observed. 

2d. The external temperature, the amount and kind of clothing, aud the 
position of the body, all modify the rate of cooling. This cooling seems 
to depend upon (1.) The cessation of heat production by vital or chemical 
processes; (2.) Radiation ; (3.) Conduction and convection by cool air, cold 
ground, stones, wood, articles of bedding, and other substances upon which 
the bod) r rests, or by which it is surrounded. 

3d. Age aud se.r appear to modify this but little, if at all, per se, although 
the new-born foetus probably cools more rapidly than older infants. 

4th. The mode of death has far more to do with it. Large losses of blood 
are said, by Dr. B. Ward Richardson, to cause rapid cooliug. This agrees 
with our own, and with common experience, but Dr. Taylor has shown 
that it is not invariably true. A man, aged forty-eight, died from losing 

* We have been favored by Dr. Letheby with some MS. notes of observations 
taken as far back as 1851, on the phenomena following death. The observations on 
temperature are of great interest. They include axillary and rectal temperatures, 
and the temperature of the room in which the bodies were. The temperatures of 
the earlier hours after death do not materially differ from those quoted. But some 
observations made on the bodies of adult males show that when the surrounding 
atmosphere was 55° to 57° Fahr. the axillary temperature was on an average 14°, 
and the rectal 18° Fahrenheit, higher than that of the air, so long after death as 
from 20 to 24 hours, the cooling being most rapid in the first few hours after death. 
Dr. Guy slates that this cooling = about 1° F. per hour, which seems nearly correct. 


about 4 lbs. of blood. Four hours after death the skin of his abdomen 
had a temperature of 84° F., eight hours after of 80 D F., although the 
dead-house temperature was 38° F. only. The conditions were favorable 
to rapid cooling. It is, however, noteworthy that he had met with an 
accident, necessitating ligature of his axillary artery. 

Observations on temperature should be taken by a thermometer, aud 
repeated at intervals of a few hours. It is the progressive continuous cool- 
ing, not the absolute temperature, which indicates death. 

Vth. Several minor phenomena, or so-called "tests" for death, have been 
observed, and may conveniently be grouped as follows: (1.) If scarificators and 
cupping-glasses be applied to any part, e. g., the pit of the stomach, blood 
usually flows, but it will not do so after death, at all events not many 
hours. ( M. Levasseur, Hotel Dieu.) (2.) Bright steel needles inserted 
in any part of the skin, will be found free from rust even after some hours. 
(M. Laborde.) This appears greatly dependent on the amount of cooling 
aud moisture, and is untrustworthy. (3.) Wires attached to these needles 
no longer deflect a galvanometer. (See muscular irritability.) (4.) It is 
stated that a burning match, hot sealing-wax, cantharides solutions, or blis- 
tering fluids no longer produce vesication. Here again there is a fallacy, 
as in young and healthy subjects, such effects do follow shortly after death, 
although not after the second or third day. (5.) The fingers and hands, 
especially iu young subjects, are translucent during life, but become opaque 
after death. Iu other words, if a bright light be placed behind the hand 
of a living person, in a dark room, it shows a pinkish red, almost trans- 
parent appearance. (6.) A string tied tightly round the finger of the sup- 
posed corpse will, if life be not extinct, shortly cause the finger to become 
bluish-red. (7.) As the arteries are well known to be usually pale and 
empty of blood after death, Dr. Leon Davis proposes, to cut dowu on the 
temporal or radial artery iu doubtful cases, to ascertain the color and con- 
tents. There are, however, exceptions to the above rule, especially when 
the arteries have become at all rigid. (8.) It has been proposed to inject 
liquor ammonia' subcutaueously. Iu the living body, or in one only just 
dead, a sort of port-wine congestion is immediately produced. In a body 
only just dead, a less degree of this might be visible ; but in one dead some 
hours or days scarcely any change is produced. 

Vlth. The limbs and joints of the body become stiff. In other words post- 
mortem rigidity sets in at a variable time after death. This rigidity or stiff- 
ness is a phenomenon belonging to the voluntary muscles, and although 
much attention has been given to it, is a subject still involved in much 
obscurity. It does not seem certain as yet that it is due to coagulation of 
the myosin or albuminous principle of muscular tissues. This body is ob- 
tained with difficulty in an uncoagulated state, from warm-blooded ani- 
mals, and has an extraordinary tendency to coagulate at all temperatures 
above 32° F. (0° C). The following facts on muscular rigidity appear 
well authenticated.* 

(1) The coagulation of the muscle plasma is greatly accelerated by heat. 
At 40 c C. (104° F.) it coagulates almost instantaneously. Cold water, 
and 15 per cent, solutions of sodium chloride coagulate it when it is dropped 
into them. Iu 10 per cent, solution of HC1 it coagulates, but the clot is 
dissolved, and syntonin formed. 

(2) Living muscles at rest have a double, or amphichromatic reaction 

* Most of these facts will be found in the excellent article by Dr. Michael Foster, 
in Klein, Sanderson, Foster, and Brunton's Handbook for the Physiological Labor- 
atory. See also Dr. Hughes Bennett's Text-Book of Physiology, 1872. 


on litmus-papers, changing the color of both blue and red. But the red 
is altered most, so that the muscular reaction may be described as alkaline. 

(3 I After contraction of a muscle in life, and during post-mortem rigid- 
ity, the reaction of the muscle is acid (reddens blue litmus-paper). This 
is particularly evident in rigor mortis. 

i 4 I The acid rigid muscle, after death, again becomes soft, non-elastic, 
and alkaline, as soon as the post-mortem rigidity has passed oft". Lastly, 
(5 i the muscle in a state of rigor mortis, has become opaque. {See No. (5), 
under the minor signs in last page.) 

Below '26° Fahr. = — 11° C. muscular fibres pass rapidly into some new 
molecular condition from which they do not return into active life by any 
known means of recovery (Dr. B. \V. Richardson). Brown-Sequard has 
shown that a current of arterial blood restores muscular contractility to 
rigid limbs. 

The practical questions arising out of the phenomena of post-mortem 
rigidity are the following: 

(1) How soon after death does it come on ? 

(2) In what order are the various parts of the body affected? 
(3 I How soon does it pass off? 

(4) By what circumstances is it modified ? 

On each and all of these questions there has been much discussion. 

Old nurses and "layers out" are always extremely anxious to close the 
eyelids with a penny piece, and to bind up the lower jaw the moment after 
death if they can, lest rigidity should supervene before they have time thus 
to compose the corpse. Our own observations have taught us that rigidity 
of the eyelids sometimes comes on in less thau five minutes after death. 
Dr. Guy says, "Even before the heart has ceased to beat in some eases," 
and Brown-Sequard confirms this. Sommer says he has known it appear 
in ten minutes. From three to six hours is perhaps an average. Nider- 
koru, whose observations appear to have been made with great care, states 
that in more than two-thirds of his 135 cases post-mortem rigidity was 
complete in the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth hour; in only two out of 1103 
cases was it complete as early as two hours. But he states that in all the 
135 cases, some one or more of the articulations were rigid within the first 
two hours after death. There seems no well-authenticated case in which 
the supervention of post-mortem rigidity has been delayed beyond the day 
of death, although there are numerous cases in which it passes off so quickly 
as to be unnoticed. 

In what order are the various regions of the body affected? Nysteu, 
"Becherches de physiologie et de chimie pathologiques pour faire suite a 
celles de Bichat sur la vie et la mort" (A.D. 1811), says: "This stiffness 
always begins in the human subject with the trunk and neck, then attacks 
the thoracic limbs, and from them proceeds to the abdominal ones, so that 
the latter are still supple when the former are already stiff; and it follows 
the same order in disappearing, so that the legs are often quite stiff when the 
other parts of the body have regained their suppleness." He does not men- 
tion the jaw at all. Sommer (" De signis mortem hominis absolutem ante 
putrediuis accessum indicantibus," Copenhagen, 1833, a rare book, quoted 
by Orfila) says: "It begins in the neck and lower jaw, then attacks the 
upper extremities, lastly the pelvic limbs. It is rare for it to begin in the 
lower extremities, or to invade all four limbs at once. In 200 cases Som- 
mer only found one in which it did not begin in the neck." Larcher (in a 
Memoir addressed to the Academy of Sciences, in the " Archives de Mede- 



cine," 1862) founded on the examination of 600 bodies, states that: "The 
order of post-mortem rigidity is always the same, no matter what the kind 
of death, whether sudden or slow, natural or accidental. The muscles of 
the lower jaw stiffen first, then the abdominal limbs, then the neck mus- 
cles; lastly, more or less slowly, the thoracic limbs (arms). The muscles 
which are the first to stiffen, remain stiff the longest. It is also certain 
that the lower jaw and the knee stiffen more slowly and thoroughly than 
the shoulder." 

Casper states that "it passes from above downwards, begins on the back 
of the neck and lower jaw, passes then into the facial muscles, the front 
of the neck, the chest, the upper extremities, and last of all the lowe> 
extremities. Usually it passes off in the same order, and once gone it 
never returns, and the body becomes as flexible as it formerly was." 

Niderkorn (lot 1 , cit., p. 91) thinks there is no such invariable law as 
these authors suppose. . He says the hip and the knee go together, and 
the shoulder and elbow ;. in about half the cases the foot and wrist go with 
their larger joints. The lower jaw is usually first attacked, then the neck, 
then the lower extremities, but very often upper and lower extremities 
stiffen almost simultaneously. 

In answer to the question, how soon does it pass off? it must be said that 
there are cases in which it passes off w'ith extreme rapidity, even as soon 
as in one or two hours. In winter six or seven days are not uncommon. 
As long as three weeks has been noted in very cold weather. {See the 
next paragraph.) 

The circumstances which modify post-mortem rigidity are: (a.) The age of 
the subject, and the condition of the muscular system. Excluding foetuses 
of immature growth, young subjects, etc., very old ones display the most 
complete rigidity. It is less marked in middle age, except in very mus- 
cular subjects, (b.) The mode of death. In very lingering diseases (such 
as phthisis) it often conies on very speedily, and disappears in an hour or 
two. In conditions of great exhaustion from fatigue (as at the end of a 
battle, or in hunted animals) the same thing occurs. In cholera it conies 
on early and lasts late. In most cases of violent death, and of poisoning, 
it sets in late, and lasts long. Casper states that it is absent in narcotic 
poisoning. This is not, however, generally true. Habitual drunkards 
exhibit a long continuance of post-mortem rigidity. There can be no 
doubt that a low temperature of the surrounding air is favorable to the 
long persistence of this rigidity. On the other hand, Brown-Sequard and 
others have shown that it may come on in a warm bath, that it is exceed- 
ingly well marked in hot countries, and that it often comes on when the 
internal temperature of the corpse is above the normal. {See particularly 
Niderkorn, loc. cit., pp. 32 and 59.) Paralyzed limbs become rigid, but 
the muscles of limbs shattered by accident do not stiffen like others. Post- 
mortem rigidity has been stated (on the high authority of John Hunter) 
not to occur in death by lightning. Mr. Gulliver, and more lately Dr. 
B. Ward Richardson, have shown this to be erroneous, both by cases and 
experiments. The latter points out that animals dying with an increase 
of their normal or natural temperature speedily become very strongly rigid, 
and remain stiff a long time. This often happens in small-pox, acute rheu- 
matism, tetanus, meningitis, abdominal diseases, pyaemia, and the like. 
Lastly, cold water is favorable to the long continuance of post-mortem 
rigidity. (>S'ee Drowning.) 

When a joint or articulation stiff from rigor mortis, or post-mortem 
rigidity, is forcibly bent, the stiffness passes off, and does not return. This 
may distinguish death from certain cases of supposed trance, from cata- 
leptic states, and from tetanic rigidity or the effect of poisons. The pro- 


gressive loss of heat in post-mortem rigidity, and the application of other 
tests for the reality of death will also save the careful medical mau from 
mistaking atiffness in the living body for the rigidity which comes on. after 
death. {See Catalepsy, Tetania, and Hysteria.) 

Vlltli. Previous to the occurrence of post-mortem rigidity, the voluntary 
muscles have lost th< ir irritability. In other words, chemical, mechanical, 
and other irritants, such as interrupted and induced currents of electricity, 
no longer excite contractions of the muscles. Whilst referring to trea- 
tises on Physiology for details of the effects of various irritants on mus- 
cular fibres, the following facts appear to us of especial importance in a 
medico-legal point of view : 

(1) Whilst healthy muscles are easily excited to contraction by inter- 
rupted currents of moderate force (such as those from one of the ordinary 
"medical" machines in which the "keeper" is made to rotate between the 
poles of a magnet ), yet this contractility, even in life, may be in abeyance, 
or suspended, by the following agencies : (a) The effect of certain poisons, 
as in chronic lead-poisoning, strychnine and its congeners, nitrate of amy], 
etc. (6) By previous exhaustion, from long-continued mechanical, elec- 
trical, and other stimuli. Hence it is undesirable in cases of suspended 
animation, to use galvanism or any form of electricity for prolonged 
periods of time. Even great fatigue, or repeated blows as in prize rights, 
or prolonged struggles, will have the same effect, (c) Long-continued 
cold suspends, without destroying the irritability of voluntary muscles. 
According to Dr. B. Ward Richardson (" Croonian Lecture," 1873) from 
38° to 28 J F. is the most favorable degree of cold for mere suspension. 
Increased heat, especially about 12° Fahrenheit (= 6.6° Centigrade), 
above the normal temperature of an animal, if long-continued it tends to 
bring about a permanent loss of irritability, or rigor mortis in the muscles 
from coagulation of the myosin (Xorris, Richardson, etc.). (e) A sud- 
den sharp blow has been known to produce the same effect. (/) Accord- 
ing to Nysten,* the order in which muscular irritability ceases, is the fol- 
lowing : first in the left ventricle of the heart, then in the intestines and 
stomach, the urinary bladder, right ventricle of heart, oesophagus, iris, then 
in the voluntary muscles of the trunk, lower and upper extremities, lastly 
in the left and right auricle of the heart, (g) Certain diseases of the 
brain and spinal cord (Paralyses, especially Paraplegia, Pseudo-hyper- 
trophic Paralysis of Ducheune, etc.) show suspension or entire loss of this 
irritability. (In During contraction of a muscle heat is produced, hence 
as a test it has been proposed to insert a delicate thermometer i registering 
at least tenths of a degree Centigrade ) into the muscle to be tested, whilst an 
electric current is passed through it, or still better, through its nerve, (i) 
Souud is also produced when muscles contract forcibly. This susurrus 
might therefore be listened for with the stethoscope, whilst making the ex- 
periment to induce contraction. (To imitate this, listen over biceps whilst 
contracting, or insert tip of little finger into ear, and contract muscles of 
ball of thumbs quickly. Dr. Wollastou.) (f) After death, notably in 
yellow fever, cholera, and some other diseases, muscular movements, and 
muscular irritability in a marked degree, may persist for several hours 
after death, in other words, after respiration and circulation have ceased. 

* Onimus (Le Mouvement Medical. Feb 1873) states that the first muscles to 
lose their excitability are the diaphragm and the tongue; then the facial muscles, 
of which the masseter ia Inst. In two and a half to three hours after death con- 
tractility is quite lost in all of them. In the limbs the extensor muscles so first — 
the flexors retain excitability about an hour longer. Five or six hours alter death 
the trunk muscles still answer to faradization — the abdominal muscles sometimes 
even later than this. 


{See Dr. Bennet Dowler's " Experimental Researches on Post-mortem Con- 
tractility," New York, 1846.) Of this we were ourselves witnesses in the 
cholera epidemic of 1866.* (k) It is a disputed point whether the blood 
has any appreciable influence upon muscular irritability after death. It 
is, however, known that ligature of a large artery in animals suspends or 
greatly diminishes this irritability, as do large losses of blood, whilst arti- 
ficial circulation, especially of warm fluids, restores it. (/) Lastly, certain 
curious so-called psychical states, such as trance, hysteria, shock, etc., sus- 
pend or greatly impair muscular contractility. 

VIHth. Putrefaction, although usually a late, is perhaps the most certain 
sign of death u>e possess. Yet it scarcely deserves the name of an infallible 
sign, given it by Dr. Guy, for the following reasons: (1) In a living body, 
a portion may die, as in the case of gangrene of limbs, or on the face, 
trunk, etc., after severe local injuries, or in certain feeble states of health. 
(2) The spontaneous changes of color undergone by extravasated blood, 
what is popularly known as " a bruise," simulate the coloration due to 
putrefaction. It is pretty obvious too that such an appearauce might be 
artificially produced by pigments. (3) The odor of decomposition, so 
far from being exclusively a post-mortem phenomenon, is met with in cer- 
tain diseases, as gangrene of the lungs, etc., ulcere of the lower extremities, 
caries of bones (ozcena), and the like. It must, however, be admitted that 
general and advanced decomposition of the tissues is one of the safest signs 
of death. The phenomena presented by dead bodies undergoing putrefac- 
tion may be classed as follows : 

(a) Appearances due to extravasation and imbibition of fluids, (b) 
Those due to putrefaction itself, and the evolution of gases, (c) Those 
due to saponification, on the formation of adipocere. (d) Those due to 
mummification, or slow drying of the tissues. 

A. Appearances due to extravasation of and imbibition of fluids. Post- 
mortem stains or hypostases. Very soon after death (8 to 12 hours, Cas- 
per) the dependent or lowest parts of the body (no matter what the posi- 
tion ) acquire an appearance which closely simulates the effects of bruises 
or contusions. The blood within the body, after death, coagulates, just 
as blood withdrawn from the living body does, though more slowly. In 
acute inflammations, where the amount of fibriu is much increased, this 
coagulation sometimes precedes the actual moment of death, and is in fact 
one of the modes of death. In diseases such as those fevers which diminish 
the quantity of fibriu or reduce it to almost nothing, as e. g., phthisis, the 
blood may scarcely coagulate at all. Sir James Paget has drawn atten- 
tion to the subject of "Coagulation of the Blood after Death," in a paper 
with this title in the " Loudon Medical Gazette," vol. xxvii, p. 613, etc. He 
shows that the position of the red blood-corpuscles, in other words, of the 
most deeply colored portion of the clot, may often determine the position 
of the body at the time of death. It is generally said that the seat of the 
discolorations after death (cadaveric lividity) differs from that of the dis- 
coloration produced when the man was alive; the rete mucosum and vas- 
cular membrane exterior to (above) the true skin, being the parts affected 
by post-mortem changes, the true skin being found injected and ecchy- 
mosed in bruises inflicted during life, and from the effects of poisons and 

* When such movements are rapidly succeeded by post-mortem rigidity, the 
limbs of a corpse, or the body itself, may sometimes be found in very Bingular po- 
sitions, and these attitudes may even give rise to the supposition of murder; this 
is most likely to occur in cases of sudden death from apoplexy, etc. See Taylor's 
P. and P. of M. J., vol. i, p. 70-73. 


straggles. Dr. Guy has shown thai this is by no means always true 
(" Manual," p. 238). No blood flows from an incision into post-mortem 

stains, or at most only a few blondy points can be made out in most cases. 
In cases of dropsy, however, a blood-stained serum might exude. These 
post-mortem stains or hypostases ko tT-rr^ui) are divided into internal and 
external. The latter are to be looked for at the back of the head, neck, 
and trunk, the nates, back of arms and thighs, calves, etc.. in ordinary 
cases; but they may also be found on the face, ears, and sides, and as 
before stated, on the lowest or most dependent parts of the body, whatever 
its position may have been. If the body be turned over whilst still warm, 
the original stains more or less disappear, and fresh ones may form. The 
color varies from livid or coppery-red to reddish-blue, and the outlines are 
very irregular, as is the size of the spots or stains. Some medical jurists 
call these post-mortem stains sue/illation, an ambiguous term ( see Contu- 
sions). Those resembling stripes are called vibiees. It is important for 
you to know that such marks closely simulating the effects of flogging, 
may be produced by the pressure of clothes, or of the surface on which the 
body is lying {see also on the marks of ligatures under Suffocation). Occa- 
sionally post-mortem ecchymoses, particularly in death by lightning, assume 
an arborescent or treelike form, which appears to be due to the distension 
of cutaneous capillaries and small veins. The larger marks do not always 
correspond to the cutaneous veins, etc., described in books, but it must be 
remembered that great irregularities are met with in the cutaneous veins. 

Internal hypostases, or blood-stains, occur chiefly in the following situa- 
tions: (1) In the veins of the pia mater of the posterior hemisphere, in 
the ordinary position of the head after death. (2) In the posterior part 
of the lungs. This appears to be true of all bodies, especially in cases of 
old or feeble persons. About one-fourth of the lungs is thus marked. (3) 
On the intestines. This maybe mistaken by the incautious for peritonitis. 
To guard yourselves from this, pull the convolutions of the bowels for- 
wards, and you will see "breaks" in the redness. On the posterior or 
dependent portions of the interior of the stomach and small intestines a 
similar discoloration may be met with, due simplv to the same hypostatic 
conditions. (4) In the posterior part of the kidneys. (5) In the pos- 
terior part of the spiual cord, particularly of its pia mater. You should 
familiarize yourselves with the appearances presented in the post-mortem 
room, both on the exterior and interior of the body. This will be your 
best safeguard against those ridiculous mistakes which are constantly made 
by persons ignorant of these matters. Were they only ridiculous, but 
little barm would be done; but, unfortunately, there is a serious side, and 
innocent persons may be condemned by mistakes originating in ignorance. 
It must be confessed that much remains yet to be learnt of the true nature 
of these post-mortem changes. It is quite clear that besides coagulation 
of the blood, there is a lakelike solution of the coloring-matter in many 
cases, probably due to ammoniacal gas, and that the subsequent changes 
of color are due to varying degrees of oxidation, and to the separation of 
iron from the coloring-matter. Similar changes occur in old apoplectic 

Bile-stains. — Soon after death changes take place in bile, so that its col- 
oring-matter oozes through the gall-bladder, and other parts which contain 
it. In this way the contiguous parts of the stomach and intestines maybe 
stained of a yellowish or greenish color. Do not mistake this for the effect 
of corrosive poisons. 

B. Changes produced by Putrefaction and the Evolution of Gases. — These 
become evident to sight, smell, and chemical tests. One of the earliest signs 
of putrefaction is a greenish or greenish-purple, or yellowish-green discol- 



oration of the skin of the abdomen. This next extends itself to the geni- 
tals, aud then to other parts of the body. The discoloration of the eye 
has already been noticed. Next, gases of various kinds are generated in 
more or less abundance, giving the body a bloated appearance, and especi- 
ally distending the abdomen. In some cases the gas is highly inflammable. 
The chief gases which have been recognized by chemists as evolved from 
decomposing bodies are: Carbonic acid (known by reaction with lime or 
baryta-water, aud reddening litmus-paper fugitively); Carbonic oxide 
(burns with pale blue flame); Ammonia (by pungent odor, bluing red 
litmus, and fuming with hydrochloric acid) ; Hydrogen sulphide (blackens 
lead-paper); Garburetted hydrogen (burns like coal-gas, and produces water 
and CO, in combustion) ; Phosphoretted hydrogen (recognized by inflam- 
mability, aud by paper soaked in nitrate of silver, which has been kept in 
the dark, and moistened just before use) ; Nitrogen, known by its negative 
properties, and Carbonate of ammonia. If the sulphuretted hydrogen aud 
ammonia are eombiued, paper moistened with nitro-prusside of sodium 
acquires a crimson tint by exposure to the gas. (Dr. A. X. Taylor.) Other 
gases maybe generated, either from the tissues, or from the food and lieces 
in the stomach and intestines. These gases tinge both the exterior aud 
interior of the viscera in a remarkable manner, often resembling the effects 
of poison. Reddish-brown, deep-livid purples, slate color, and green or 
greenish-yellow, or even black streaks or lines, may be found. The color 
of the blood in the veins or heart may also be greatly changed by these 
spontaneous decompositions. It it that extreme/;/ important to note the time 
after death, and the amount of putrefactive changes present. 

The force of the gas generated has been suftieieut, in some cases, to 
empty the heart and great vessels — even, it is said, to expel the foetus 
from the uterus (!) aud to burst the cottins, even when made of lead, in 
which such bodies have been inclosed. There is a popular idea preva- 
lent, that it is common for bodies to burst ; but this is the reverse of 
truth. With a view to economize space, we have constructed the follow- 
ing table: 

Tabular Yikw of the Circumstances affecting Putrefaction. 

Things which favor putrefaction. 

Temperatures between 70° and 100° F. 
(21. l c and 37.7° C), therefore summer 
weather and warm rooms. 

Moisture — therefore brain andeyesoon 
putrefy, so do dropsical subjects. 

Low swampy ground. 

Free access of air. 

A shallow grave. 

Absence of clothing. 
Previous injuries and diseases, as 
bruises, wounds, inflammations. 

Sudden death. 

Acute diseases. 

Childhood (see Infanticide), and ac- 
cording to Ortila, the female sex — espe- 
cially after childbirth. (Casper.) 


Animal poisons, prussic acid (?), some 
of tlie poisonous gases. Oxygen. 

Things which retard it. 

Temperature of 32° F. (0° C), and be- 
low this (cold weather and cold rooms). 

Temperature above 212° F. (100° C). 
Haemorrhages, if very profuse. 

Complete, or nearly complete immer- 
sion in water retards decomposition (see 
Drowning). A deep grave. 

The body being protected by clothing, 
or other coverings. 

Burial, especially in dry sand or earth, 
and burial very soon after death. 

Dry, elevated ground. 

Some poisons, as arsenic, alcohol, 
chloroform, strychnine (?), phosphorus. 

Certain gases. Nitrogen, the residuum 
of air inclosed in air-tight cothns. 


Old age, unless corpulence, or other 
special reason, as dropsy. 

Lime, as opposed to the popular views. 


For an account of the changes undergone by bodies more or less im- 
mersed in water, it seems to us far more convenient to the student to 
refer to the articles on Drown in;/. See, also, Adipocere, in the next 
section. For the effects of various modes of death, as poisons, on putre- 
faction, reference must also be made to the articles on the various poisons. 

You may probably be asked, "How soon after death can putrefaction 
occur/" Your answer must be that, under favorable conditions, it may 
supervene within a very few hours after death — certainly, within six or 
eight hours — even to the production of vesications. Dr. Taylor states 
that it does not, and cannot, begin until post-mortem rigidity has passed 
off. One of the authors, however, lately saw a case with Dr. Herbert 
Davies, in rather cold weather, in which the corpse of a young girl was 
still rigid a w^ek after death, but putrefaction had commenced, and had 
even attached the face. The answer to another probable question, "How 
lone/ cun it be retarded?" cannot be so definite. Under Mummification, 
Drowning, etc., you will gain some idea how you ought to answer such a 
question. A remarkable instance of the preservative power of cold is 
given by Adolph Erman, who states that the body of Prince Menchikof, 
a favorite of Peter the Great, exhumed, after ninety-two years' burial 
in frozen soil, at Beresov (in Siberia), had undergone hardly any chauge. 
The " Quarterly Journal of Science," vol. viii, p. 95, gives an account of 
the discovery, in a remarkable state of preservation, of the body of an 
extinct species of elephant (E. primigenius) in a mass of ice in Siberia, 
in the year 1805. 

Besides the color changes, and development of gases in putrefaction, 
the following alterations in the dead body are caused by it. The dia- 
phragm is forced up by the distended bowels ; the blood is forced to- 
wards the head and neck ; the face swells ; the eyes, which had been 
sunken, now become horribly prominent, and collapse at a later period ; 
mucus, bloody froth, or the contents of the stomach and lungs, come from 
the mouth. Rarely, the contents of the bowels escape. Blood or rather 
bloodlike fluid, exudes from ruptured vessels, or from old wounds. (This 
was thought, in bygone days, to be due to the presence of the murderer!) 
Loose tissues (eyelids, scrotum, penis, the great labia) are distended. 
Bulla?, or vesications, form ; and the hair, nails, and scarf-skin easily be- 
come detached. The breath and portions of the body have been luminous in 
the dark in some cases; generally in advanced stages of consumption, or 
wasting disease. 

Although the occurrence of putrefaction is very variable as to time, 
the general order for the time and succession of its various steps can 
scarcely be better given than in Dr. Letheby's words (" Lancet," vol. i, 
1846, p. 412): 

"In about eight or ten hours after death, the surface of the body, espe- 
cially over the chest and on the inside of the arms and thighs, puts on a 
marbled appearance, due to a turgescence of the superficial veins. In 
about sixteen hours the dependent parts become livid or reddish-purple, 
and, after the lapse of twenty-four hours, this lividity is generally very 
marked, and the marbling on the chest and arms begins to acquire a 
purplish tint. About the second day it assumes a brownish hue, and at 
this time the abdomen and groins show more evident marks of the putre- 
factive process by acquiring a green color. From this period it advances 
with more or less rapidity, according to attendant circumstances. In 
five or six days the entire surface is ordinarily very green, and the venous 
marbling still strongly marked. About this time, in warm weather, the 
epidermis begins to loosen, and the fluids acquire great liquidity, and 


gravitate to the dependent parts, through which they readily escape. 
Beyond this, the track of decomposition can scarcely be followed with 
any certainty." 

" In what order does putrefaction advance in internal organs f" In other 
words, What parts of the body putrefy first, and which resist it longest? 
As an aid to the memory, it may be said that the windpipe and brain 
are first attacked, and the heart, lungs, and uterus last. The other facts 
are tabulated from Casper ; but there is a pretty general agreement on this 
subject amongst practical men. 

Table of order in which internal organs are attacked by putrefaction : 

1. Larynx and trachea; 2. Brain of infants and young children; 3. 
Stomach; 4. Intestines; 5. Spleen (to this there are many exceptions oc- 
curring at an earlier period); 6. Liver (gall-bladder collapses, but does 
not putrefy so soon ); 7. Brain of adults ; 8. Lungs and heart; 9. Kidneys; 
10. Urinary bladder; 11. (Esophagus or gullet; 12. Pancreas; 13. Dia- 
phragm; 14. Large bloodvessels; 15. Last of all the uterus. (See under 
determination of Sex.) 

C. Appearances due to saponification, or the formation of Adipoeere. 
Under certain circumstances, particularly in bodies long immersed in 
water, iu very fat bodies, particularly of young persons, and in bodies 
buried one on top of another, at a considerable depth, in a moist soil, a 
curious soapy, unctuous substance, named Adipoeere, from adeps, lard, and 
cera, wax, is formed principally out of the fatty tissues. Although it is 
said to have been known to the ancients, and mentioned by Lord Bacon, 
this substance attracted little attention till the publication of Fourcroy's 
Memoir, read in 1789 to the Iloyal Academy of Sciences of Paris. He 
found in the removal of large numbers of bodies from the Cimetiere des 
Innocens in Paris, that the bodies presented three different states: (1) 
The most ancient were simply portions of bones irregularly dispersed iu 
the soil, which had been frequently disturbed; (2) A second state exhib- 
ited the skin, muscles, tendons, and aponeuroses, iu bodies which had been 
insulated, dry, brittle, hard, more or less gray, and like what are called 
" Mummies" (see nextseetiou) ; (3) The most singular state was observed 
in the "fosses communes," where large numbers had been interred in deep 
pits, one above the other. On opening one of these, which had been quite 
closed for fifteen years, he found the coffins fairly preserved ; the linen 
which had covered them was slightly adherent to the flattened bodies, and 
with the form of the different regions exhibited ; on removing the linen, 
nothing but irregular masses of a soft ductile matter, of a gray-white color, 
resembling common white cheese. " It was sometimes found nearly white, 
at others yellowish-brown ; sometimes brittle and dry, always more or less 
unctuous or soapy." Since the publication of this Memoir, many researches 
have been made into the formation of this singular substance, which is by 
no means invariably of the same composition. Thus some samples melt at 
less than 200° Fahrenheit; some, examined by Dr. Taylor, required a 
higher temperature. Most specimens appear to be an ammoniacal soap, 
and are soluble in hot alcohol, making a lather with water, whilst others 
contain lime as a base. Whether lime or ammonia, the base is combined 
with oleic, stearic, and perhaps palmitic acid. As all the tissues contain 
more or less fat, almost every part of the body may be gradually con- 
verted into Adipoeere — even the bones to a great extent — but the skin, 
breasts, and fat of various organs are first so converted; more slowly mus- 
cles, solid viscera, and the harder tissues. (For further accounts of this 
substance, see Dr. Taylor ( loc. cit., p. 109) ; Ure's " Dictionary of the Arts," 


and art. Adipocere; Hooper's "Med, Diet.." art. Adipocere; Wetherell, in 

" Archiv. der Pharmacie," 1857, Feb., p. 203; Guv's "Forensic Medicine." 
p. 245; Devergie, "Annates d'Hygilne," vol. ii, etc., etc. ) It appears cer- 
tain that under favorable circumstances, as in running water, a body can 
be partially converted into adipocere in from four to five or six weeks. (See 
Devergie, ioc. cit. ; also Dr. Giles's "Experiments upon Meat.'' i Dr. Tay- 
lor states that a female interred in a common grave, after fourteen mouths, 
was found partially converted into this substance, chiefly the lower part of 
her body. The period required by this change is therefore much less than 
was stated by the grave-diggers to Foureroy. This has already been the 
subject of inquiry at a trial. (For full particulars of which, see Beck's 
"Medical Jurisprudence," 5tb edit., p. 599.") The question was tried at 
the Lent assizes, at Warwick, in the year 1805. An insolvent gentleman, 
named Meecham, left his house Nov. 3d, as was supposed from his words 
and manner, to destroy himself. Five weeks and four days after ( Dec. 
12th) his body was found floating down a river, three miles from his home. 
Besides appearances of putrefaction in the face and scalp, the lower part 
of the abdomen and the glutei muscles were found converted into adi- 
pocere. A commission of bankruptcy was taken out against him a /• w 
days after he left home. The medico-legal question was, " Is it probable he 
drowned himself on the day he left home?" In which case the bank- 
ruptcy would be annulled. Dr. Gibbes, of Bath, gave evidence that adi- 
pocere required at least a month, perhaps five or six weeks, to be found in 
any quantity, even in running water. The jury decided on this, that he 
had drowned himself when the commission was taken out. (This formed 
the subject of one of the M. B. questions at Cambridge in 1872.) 

D. Appearances due to mummification. Probably most of you are 
familiar with the appearances of an Egyptian mummy. Most of our medi- 
cal museums contain some specimens of bodies, or portions of such, in this 
condition. Our dissecting-rooms also give occasional samples from the 
bodies of old or bloodless persons. Similar changes occur in dry or senile 
gangrene, and in bodies embalmed. It is said that Shakspeare's expres- 
sion (" Hamlet," Act . V, Scene I), "A tanner will last you nine year!" 
is literally true. Bodies exposed to a drving wind, as in an open vault at 
Charlottenherg, near Berlin, appear to be preserved in a very wonderful 
manner. (Casper, vol. i; Dr. Balfour's Trans., p. 43.) Embalming 
enables even the features to be identified after the lapse of more than a 
century. Thus the body of King Charles I, after 165 years, was easily rec- 
ognized. (See Sir Henry Halford's "Account of the Opening of the Tomb 
of Charles I," in his Essays and Orations. A reduced copy of the engrav- 
ing of the face, etc., will be found in Guy's "Forensic Medicine," p. 10.) 

The aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands preserved the bodies 
of their deceased friends, which have been found in great numbers in the 
Catacombs in Palraa, Ferro, Teneriffe, etc. : the natives called them \a/"S. 
The entrails appear to have been removed, the bodies dried in air, with 
the addition of spices, and some sort of varnish ? Humboldt found similar 
mummies in Mexico and Peru. In the celebrated Monastery of St. Ber- 
nard, the bodies of travellers found dead in the snow are deposited in 
a chapel, with open grated windows; they are in a sitting position, leaning 
each on another's breast. Here cold seems to have preserved them, and 
given time for drying. The following are also instances of long preserva- 
tion by embalming: King Edward I, buried in 1307, was found entire in 
1770 I 463 years) ; Canute died in 1036, and his body was found very fresh 
in 1776 (740 years) ; the bodies of William the Conqueror, and his Queen 
Matilda, were found entire at Caen in the sixteenth century. The vaults 
at Dublin, the Cemetery of the Cordeliers at Toulouse, the Capuchin vaults, 


near Palermo, as well as the Catacombs in the East, and at Rome and 
Paris, present many specimens of natural mummies. Though not much is 
knowu of the time required for such natural desiccation, it appears pretty 
certain that bodies of a rather dry nature (i. e., not containing much blood 
or fat, and abounding in fibrous tissue), exposed to a dry air, and protected 
from moisture, are likely to be preserved longest. 

As regards hair, teeth, skin, and bones, there seems scarcely any limit to 
the time they may be preserved under favorable conditions. 

We have ourselves examined portions of skin, the history of which was 
that they belonged to Danes, who had been flayed (probably alive) for 
piracy, more than 1000 years ago. Analogous facts are presented by speci- 
mens from the vegetable kingdom in our museums and horti sicci. 

Order in which the Signs of Death succeed each other. 

The rapidity of decomposition in some cases, and the length of time 
during which it is retarded in others, renders it very unsafe to give any 
geueral formula which shall settle the time a body has been dead. Your 
opinion must be founded upon the condition of all the organs — the mode 
of death, and the surroundings — including in the latter term the season of 
the year, the amount of heat and moisture, and the quantity of clothing, 
depth of grave, etc. But Casper's rules will be found correct in the ma- 
jority of cases. With slight alteration, these are as follows (loc. cit., vol. 
i, pp. 15-40) : 

I. Signs of death present in bodies dead from ten to twelve hours at 

1. Complete cessation of respiration and circulation — no evidence of 
either, even by auscultation. 

2. The eye has lost its lustre, the pupil is immovable, and the globe has 
lost its normal tension. 

3. No stimulus has any power of producing reaction. 

[In previously healthy subjects who have met with a violent or sudden 
death, galvanism (interrupted currents or shocks from any electric ma- 
chine), may, however, produce movements, as in Galvaui's well-known ex- 
periments for some hours after death.] 

4. The body is ashy white. [Except in jaundice, or yellow colorations 
from poisons, and iu persons with very florid complexions. Tattoo-marks, 
the edges of ulcers, bruises, and wounds inflicted during life, and extrava- 
sations, as in purpura, must be excepted also.] 

5. Most bodies are quite cold in from eight to twelve hours (vide antea.). 

6. There is a state of general relaxation and flaccidity (unless rigor 
mortis be present, and sometimes even then), with flattening of the nates, 
calves, etc., when subjected to the pressure of their own weight, and this is 
strikingly shown iu the globe of the eye. 

7. Dependent or posterior portions of the body begin to exhibit a bruised- 
like condition, known as post-mortem staining, or hypostases — internal 
and external. 

II. Signs of death present in bodies dead from two to three days. In ad- 
dition to all, or nearly all the preceding, especially the post-mortem stains, 
we get 

8. Coagulation of the blood (gee before"), and 

9. Kigor mortis is either present, or has passed off. (See before, p. 40, 
for rules and exceptions.) 

As regards frozen bodies, the rigidity due to frost is known by its af- 
fecting all parts of the body, and completely fixing the articulations. 


III. Signs of death in bodies dead more than three days. 

10. Except in very rare cases, there will now be signs of putrefaction. 
The exceptions will be in very cold weather, or bodies preserved iu ice, or 
some modes of death I as alcohol poisoning , or when some method of hin- 
dering decomposition, has been employed : or at later periods, when mum- 
mification or saponification [formation of adipocere], of which we have 
just spoken, has modified this process.* (11. > The temperature will now 
be that of the surrounding medium, or but little above it. ( 12. | And the 
muscles will no longer respond to the strongest galvanic current or elec- 
tric shock. 

Cautions as to Putrefaction. 

It is generally admitted that the earlier stages of this process are the most 
dangerous as regards infection from what are commonly called " post-mor- 
tem or dissection wounds." Some of the later stages may, however, be 
equally dangerous, or even more so, unless precautious are taken to insure 
the dilution of the poisonous gases with a large bulk of air, and disinfec- 
tion by chemical means. The matters are, however, not so much within 
the province of legal medicine as are the following : 

1st. Casper states, very properly, that bodies green from putridity, blown 
up with gases, and excoriated, at the expiration of one month, or from 
three to five months after death (this stage of putrefaction lastiDg a long 
time iu some cases), cart, par., cannot with any certainty be distinguished 
from each other, as regards either recognizing the features, or stating which 
died first, or how long death has taken place. 

But 2dly. We should hardly ever refuse to perform a post-mortem ex- 
amination merelv on account of putridity, since iu the most rotten corpses 
we can generally determine the sex and age t from the bones or hair, or dis- 
covery of a uterus I, and very often the mode of death, as fir example, 
in apoplexy, aueurism, and many forms of poisoning, notably arsenical, 
strychnine, and sometimes the existence of pregnauev, from finding fo-tal 
bones, etc., in the interior of a woman's body ; or some article, as a false 
tooth, or ring, or truss, or the loss of a limb, or an ununited or other frac- 
ture which may lead to identification, as an ununited fracture did in the 
case of Dr. Livingstone. 

* Casper states that his experience leads him to conclude that the following pro- 
portion is not far from the exact truih: ••At a tolerably similar average tempera- 
ture, the degree of putrefaction present in a hody after lying in the open air for one 
Is to thai found in n body after l/j>wj in the water two 
weeks ; - . or after lying in the earth in the usual manner fur eight weeks (or 

monthst.'' The latter refers to the prompt burial more common abroad than in En- 
gland, but after the first week this proportion will be found pretty exact. 




Definition of a poison — Action of poisons — Circumstances modifying their action 
— Circumstances leading to the suspicion of poison having been administered — - 
Symptoms of: (1.) Corrosive; (2.) Irritant ; (3. ) Narcotic and narcotico-acrid 
poisons — -Treatment of poisoning cases — Conclusions to be drawn from analyses 
— How far poisons ;.re natural constituents of the body — Hints for a post-mor- 
tem — Post-mortem appearances in different forms of poisoning — Diseases that 
simulate poisoning — Cases of supposed poisoning and malingering — Classifica- 
tion of poisons. 

The reply to the question, "what is a poison?" seems 'simple enough. 
In common language we say: "It is a substance capable of destroying life 
promptly when taken in small quantity." But this popular notion of a 
poison is not sufficiently exact for the medical jurist; for, as the law does 
not define a poison, its strict definition by the medical witness often becomes 
a matter of paramount importance. 

We are indebted to Dr. Letheby for the following definition of a poison: 
"Anything which otherwise than by the agency of heat or electricity is 
capable of destroying life, either by chemical action on the tissues of the 
living body or by physiological action from absorption into the living 

It will be remarked that in this definition no reference is made to the 
quantity of the drug necessary to destroy life. Nor would it be accurate 
to do so. Oxalic acid is a poison, and an active one; but usually at least 
half an ounce is necessary to cause death. Half an ounce can scarcely be 
called a small quantity. Similarly, too, if quantity was to be regarded as 
an essential element in the definition of a poison, the salts of several of the 
metals would necessarily be excluded from the category of poisons. 

Again, a poison may be administered in several ways other than by the 
mouth. It may be hypodermically injected or applied to the rectum, 
vagina, ear, or nostril, or to the lungs, or to the skin, abraded or unbroken. 
Our definition, therefore, must provide for any mode of administration. 
The act uses the words "administered to" or "taken by" the person killed, 
the words " apply or administer to " being added in a later act, to provide 
for the administration of "chloroform, laudanum, or other stupefying or 
overpowering drug, matter, or thing." In all this the want of accuracy 
of definition is manifest. For instance, it might be questioned whether 
the external application of a poison to an abraded surface would be com- 
prehended in the phrase "administer to," although such a case we should 
suppose might fairly be regarded as the application of "an overpowering 

Again, the action of a poison in destroying life must be either chemical 
or physiological, and not merely mechanical. Pins, needles, sponge, etc., 
are not poisons, although they may destroy life given internally, their 
action being strictly mechanical, and not chemical or physiological. 

To sustain a capital charge, it is necessary to prove (1 Vict., cap. 85, 
sec. 2) that the substance admininistered is "a poison or other destructive 
thing" "given " " with intent to commit murder." What is the difference, 
we must ask, between a "poison" and "a destructive thing?" A poison 


must be a destructive thing, but a destructive thing is not necessarily a 
poison. A poison, as we have said, destroys life, either by a chemical or 
physiological action, whilst a destructive thing may act purely mechanic- 
ally. This term, therefore, will include pins, needles, and so forth. 

In most indictments the term "deadly poison " is used. Mr. Justice Erie 
("Law Times," April 12th, 1845) has wisely decided that this and such 
like terms are mere "legal surplusage," although their objectionable char- 
acter is constantly to be noted by the frequent legal quibbles they involve. 
Whether the administration of a poison is followed by death or not, it is a 
capital felony, provided it be proved that the poison was given "with intent 
to commit murder." Failing, however, to prove the intent to commit 
murder (which cases formerly escaped justice), an act was passed (23 Vict., 
cap. S, March 23d, 1860) providing for those cases where poisons such as 
phosphorus, cantharides, tartar emetic, etc., were administered for the 
mere purpose of annoyance, or even for worse motives. It provides: 

1. That the administration of a poison, or other destructive or noxious 
thing, with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm, is felony, 
the sentence being penal servitude for -not more than ten nor less than three 
years, or imprisonment for not more than three years with or without hard 

2. That the administration of a poison, or other destructive thing, with 
intent to injure, grieve, or annoy a person, is a misdemeanor, the sentence 
being imprisonment for not exceeding three years with or without bard 

3. That a jury failing to convict a prisoner for felony, is at liberty to 
return him guilty of misdemeanor. 

Further, the attempt to administer a poison, although it may be unsuc- 
cessful, is regarded as a felony punishable by transportation. 

A curious question has been raised (Reg. v. Cluderay, Jan. 19th, 1849), 
whether the administration of a berry that was poisonous, iuclosed in a 
non poisonous husk, and which, consequently, allowed the poisonous body 
to pass through the system without injury to the person to whom it was 
administered, was a criminal act. It was decided that this was the ad- 
ministration of a poison with intent to murder. 

It has been decided upon several occasions that, the intent being proved, 
although the amount of poison administered might be insufficient to cause 
death, the crime of attempting to administer poison is complete. 

It is difficult to define the exact boundary between a medicine and a 
poison. A medicine in a large dose may be a poison, and so also may 
any active drug, although it be only administered in medicinal doses, if 
such doses are too frequently repeated. 

In what way do Poisons act t 
The action of poisons is either 

1. Local, i. e., when the action is confined to the part to which the poison 
is applied ; or 

2. Remote, i.e., when the action extends to distant organs. 

I. Local. — Strong acids, caustic alkalies, or corrosive salts applied 
either externally or internally produce corrosion at the spot where they 
are applied. Similarly, arsenic, tartar emetic, cantharides, and other 
irritants, produce inflammation and its results. The local action of a 
poison on nerves is illustrated by the anaesthetic action of chloroform or 


veratria; the local actiou on muscle by the effects of belladonna and 
Calabar bean on the iris. The local action, therefore, of some poisons, it 
will be seen, is entirely chemical, e.g., nitric acid, the mineral salts, and 
all such- bodies as coagulate albumen ; whilst of others it is entirely 
physiological, as e.g., aconite, belladonna, opium, etc. 

II. Remote. — Death is very rarely brought about merely bv the local 
actiou of a poison. In some few cases, as with mineral acids or caustic 
alkalies, such a thing may happeu, but far more frequently the true death 
action is a remote one; we mean by that an injury set up in some other 
organ to which the poison has not been directly applied. The effects of 
arsenic in producing inflammation of the mucous membranes generally, 
aud the effects of strychnia on the nervous system, are illustrations in 

Further, the remote action of a poison is seldom a general action. All 
poisons, moreover, do not act on the same orgaus, nor do they destroy life 
in the same way. Poisons possess a certain power of selection, acting upon 
tissues or upon organs peculiar to themselves. 

By some the heart is specially affected, as, e. g., by digitalis, tobacco, 
oxalic acid, baryta, and strontia; and by lead, zinc, and copper salts. 
Cardiac paralysis may in this way be produced by the poisoned blood find- 
iug its way into the coronary arteries. 

The organs of respiration are affected by others, as, e.g., by hydrocyanic 
acid, euphorbium, tobacco, etc. With these poisons suffocation is produced 
by an arrest of the capillary circulation. Antimony, likewise, although 
it possesses a depressing influence on the system generally, has a special 
actiou on the lungs. 

The brain is affected by others, as, e.g., by opium. Morphia, alcohol, 
and nitro-benzol may geuerally be found in the brain after poisoning with 
these drugs ; the fatal result being probably due to an indirect actiou on 
the respiratiou. 

The spinal cord, again is affected by strychnia. This effect is indepen- 
dent of any action on the brain (Emmert), inasmuch as it happens when 
the connection between them is severed. 

We find as a matter of fact that poisons generally have a decided pref- 
erence for locating themselves in the liver, and hence the importance in 
all medico-legal investigations of specially preserving and examining this 

Although we may in this manner systematize the selective action of 
poisons, it is more common to find very considerable complications, from 
more orgaus than one being attacked ; the extent of action, and the organs 
affected being largely influenced bv the quantity of the poison taken. As 
an example of this we often find the stomach, the heart, the brain, and the 
spinal cord all more or less affected by a large dose of oxalic acid. 

This remote selective action of poisons is a subject demanding close 
attention, inasmuch as symptoms of the greatest value may be noticed 
enabling us to distinguish the very poison that has been taken, or at any 
rate the class to which it belongs. With tetanic spasms, you suspect 
strychnia; with narcotic stupor, opium; with salivation, mercury ; with 
inflammation of the mucous membranes, arsenic; with bloody stools and 
bloody urine, cantharides; with delirium, belladonna, Indian hemp, hyos- 
cyamus, etc. ; with loss of muscular power, tobacco, conia, digitalis, or 
aconite; with gangrene of the limbs, ergot ; aud so forth. Lead poisoning 
shows itself by the blue line on the gums ; mercurial poisoning by paralysis 
agitans ; phosphorus poisoning by the necrosed jaw I an actiou which, how- 
ever, is almost entirely local). And yet even here it is necessary to be 
aware that it is possible to draw too fine a Hue of demarcation, for the 


general symptoms of one poison may be and often are the occasional symp- 
toms of others. Tetanus, tor example, the general symptom of strychnia 
poisoning, is found occasionally as a symptom of poisoning by other alka- 
loids and even by tartar emetic. In a case of poisoning by savin referred 
to one of the authors, the symptoms strongly pointed to strychnia. Again, 
extreme salivation may be an occasional symptom of iodide of potassium, 
perchloride of iron, belladonna, etc. 

Aud here we must ask, in what way is this remote action of a poison 
brought about, aud how is the influence of a poison thus conveyed ? 

Two answers have been given to this question. 

1st. That poisons are absorbed by the blood and carried by the circulation 
to the part where the remote action is set up. And this view has been gener- 
ally accepted since the famous experiments of Magendie in 1809. 

Independently of how poisons have been administered, the analysis of 
the blood in poisoning cases will very frequently prove their existence in 
the general circulation. Magendie showed that even when a limb was 
merely connected w ith the body by quills placed in the large vessels, glass 
tubes having been substituted for quills in the latter experiments, the poison 
continued to act, whilst it has been proved that even prussic acid, intro- 
duced into the stomach by a fistulous opening, is innocuous, provided a 
ligature be placed round the vessels passing from the stomach to the liver. 
Within one minute, however, after the ligature is removed, the poison will 
begin to act I Blake, " Ed. Med. aud Surg. Journal," vol. liii, p. 45 i. Thus 
we are led to believe i a) that poisons are absorbed and conveyed through 
the general system by the circulation to the special organ upon which they 
act ; and (.■') that the fatal action of a poison is the result of its absorption. 
With these facts before us, we can understand how sucking a poisoned 
wound, or applying a ligature may save a life. 

2dly. It has been stated that the action of the poison on the part to which it 
is applied is propagated by the nerves to the nervous centres, ami from them 
reflected to the remote organs. 

Those who believe iu this action of nerve communication or sympathy, 
urge in support of it the amazing rapidity with which prussic acid fre- 
quently proves fatal, an action compared by Magendie, in point of swift- 
ness, to the passage of a cannon ball or a thunderbolt. Such an action 
they say " is incompatible with its having followed the circuitous route of 
•the circulation in order to reach the organs on which it acts, aud there is 
no other conceivable mode by which it can act, except by the transmission 
of a primary local impulse along the uerves " I Christisou ). On the other 
hand it is urged that poisons inserted into a limb, connected with the body 
by nerves only, have no action. This was first proved by Emruert, whilst 
experimenting with the woorara poison. Further, it has been proved that 
the immediate contact of a poison with the substance of the brain itself 
may be unaccompanied by auy symptom of poisoning whatsoever. Whilst, 
however, holding most strongly that a nerve-trunk is incapable of trans- 
mitting poison, experience compels us to admit the instantaneously fatal 
action of some drugs. Cases are on record where a dog has dropped down 
dead after having scarcely swallowed a dose of prussic acid two seconds. 
With no other poison with which we are acquainted is the action so extra- 
ordinarilv rapid as it is with prussic acid. This canuot, it is manifest, be 
due to any transference of the poison by the circulation if the ordinarily- 
taught facts of the circulation be correct ; and hence, although the action 
must be aud is excessively rare, the case of prussic acid suggests the possi- 
bility of poisons destroying life by a sudden nervous shock. Nor indeed 


is there any difficult} 7 iu admitting that under exceptional circumstances 
such may be the case, when we remember how fatal the sudden shock pro- 
duced by mechanical injuries, or by the hearing bad or startling news 
occasionally proves. But there are difficulties even with prussic acid in 
admitting that the nervous shock is independent of the circulation. An 
ounce of prussic acid may be placed in the stomach of a dog, as we have 
said, provided the portal vein and oesophagus be tied, without any symp- 
toms of poisoning being produced — at any rate no symptoms occurring 
until such time as the collateral circulation brings the poison into the 
system ; but the moment the ligature is removed from the portal vein, the 
dog falls down dead. This experiment certainly throws a doubt on any 
conveyance of a poison other than by the circulation, and leads us to ask 
whether the generally accepted physiological facts relative to the time of 
the circulation and the period necessary for the transit of blood from place 
to place may not possibly require some modification. 

Circumstances Modifying the Action of Poisons. 

I. Quantity. — As a rule, the greater the quantity of a poison taken the 
more severe are the symptoms, and the more rapid their action. But this 
is by no means always or necessarily the case. A large dose of arsenic 
may tail to destroy life from the vomiting that it produces, whilst a small 
dose, failing to set up vomiting, and consequently retained by the stomach, 
may prove fatal. The dose, again, largely regulates symptoms. Many 
poisons, which iu large doses act on the nervous system, act in small doses 
on the alimentary canal. Our colleague, Mr. Rodgers, informs us of a 
remarkable case in his practice, where a woman was apparently suffering 
from all the effects of an irritant poison, with symptoms of considerable 
severity, produced by sulphate of magnesia, given to her by her husband 
in small and very frequently repeated doses for a long period, and intro- 
duced with criminal intent into every article of her food. When the fact 
was discovered, and means were taken to prevent its further administra- 
tion, the symptoms entirely disappeared. The modifying action of dose, 
again, is well illustrated in the case of oxalic acid, which, in a large dose, 
may kill by shock ; in a smaller dose by its action on the heart; in a still 
smaller dose by its action on the brain and nervous system, producing vio- 
lent tetanic spasms ; and in a yet smaller dose still, destroying life with 
all the symptoms of pure coma. 

II. Molecular Form or Physical Condition. — A poison in the state of a 
gas or vapor is, of all forms in which it can be taken, the most active. A 
poison capable of being volatilized is more energetic in its action when in- 
haled in a vaporous state than when swallowed as a solid or liquid. Next 
to the gaseous condition a poison iu solution is the most active ; absorption 
is easier, and contact with a larger surface more certainly secured. Whilst, 
lastly, a poison insoluble in water or in all the fluids of the digestive tract 
is probably inert. 

III. Chemical Combination. — (See Compound Poisoning.) 

(a) The activity of a poison may be increased by chemical combination. 

Such happens when the solubility of a poison is increased. Morphia, for 
example, in combination with hydrochloric or acetic acids, is more soluble 
than when in a free state, its activity being thereby intensified. It is also 
well to remember that the acid juices of the stomach or of the skin are 
capable of forming soluble salts with certain poisons, and so by this means 
increasing their activity. 

(,j i The activity of a poison may be decreased by chemical combination. 

This happens specially with poisons which act locally. Sulphuric acid 


and caustic soda, when combined, form a gentle aperient, the one neutral- 
izing the other. And again, whenever combination decreases the solubility 
of a poison, it decreases its activity in the same ratio. Sulphate of baryta 
is innocuous, because insoluble; but both baryta and sulphuric acid arc 
deadly poisons. 

(/-) 77c activity of a poison may be modified by chemical combination. 

It", as for example, with arseuite of copper, both elements of the com- 
pound be poisons, we may have mixed symptoms, or the symptoms of the 
most active, or symptoms peculiar to the chemical mixture. 

IV. Mechanical Mixture. 

It' the mechanical mixture serves in any way to shield a poison, its in- 
tensity of action is thereby diminished. Thus arsenic has been given in a 
suet dumpling without producing any effect. This is the explanation too 
of the delay in the commencement of the symptoms caused when a poison 
is taken with, or directly after a meal, or when administered mixed with 
oil or mucilage. The poisonous action further is usually lessened by dilu- 
tion, although this is not always the case, prussic acid being a notable ex- 

V. The method by which, or the part to tcliich the poison is administered. 
(a) First in order of activity is the insertion of a poison into a uound, 

or its application to the lungs as a gas or vapor. 

The activity of morphia when injected subcutaneously (provided the 
wound does not bleed too freely, so as to wash the poison away) is an in- 
stance of the former; and the intensity of the action of sewer gases an 
instance of the latter. 

(,i) The application of a poison to serous membranes stands next in order. 
Oxalic acid injected into the peritoneum is infinitely more rapid in its poi- 
sonous and destructive action than when merely swallowed. 

(f) Their application to mucous membranes comes next; as, e.g., when 
a poison is swallowed, and so applied to the stomach and intestines. 
Under these circumstances the intensity and rapidity of the action of a 
poison is infinitely less than in those before mentioned. It is well known 
that a large quantity of the poison of the rattlesnake may be swallowed 
with impunity; whereas the smallest possible quantity injected into a vein 
is certain to be fatal. 

And lastly, in point of order, is the application of the poison to the 
unbroken skin. For here the action is excessively slow, and oftentimes 
quite inert. 

The intensity of action of some poisons, such, for example, as the mineral 
acids, will depend on two circumstances: (1), the extent of surface de- 
stroyed ; and 2), the part to which it has been applied. 

Poisons, as before remarked, have no action when applied simply to 

VI. Habit. 

It may be broadly stated that the habitual use of a poison tends to 
decrease its activity of action. At any rate, there is no doubt this rule is 
true of organic poisons. No one doubts the stories of De Quincey and of 
other opium-eaters. We know too well the enormous quantities of lauda- 
num given to and borne by children in factory districts to keep them quiet. 
The large quantities of alcohol the confirmed drunkard consumes, as well 
as the enormous amount of tobacco-smoke the inveterate smoker can in- 
hale, are well known as further illustrations of the power of habit. But 
we must not forget that although habit begets this tolerance, a serious 
change in the constitution is often brought about by their agency. The 
disturbed digestion and enfeebled mind of the opium-eater, and the cirrhosis 



of the " gin-drinker," are proof that habit may ward off for a time the evil 
day, but cannot altogether prevent it. 

How far, however, habit can decrease the activity of inorganic poisons 
is we consider a matter of question. The truth of the old stories of the 
Styrian arsenic-eaters, and of the Turkish corrosive-sublimate-eaters, may 
fairly be regarded as open to grave doubt. Certainly, one's experience of 
the action of some inorganic poisons used in the arts (e. g., carbonate of 
lead and arseuite of copper), does not lead us to believe much in the power 
of habit in decreasing the activity of mineral poisons. Still, a celebrated 
French toxicologist (M. Flaudiu, "Traite des Poisons") informs us that he 
has been able to train animals to bear large, and even enormous doses of 
arsenic. One of the authors has pointed out the ease with which animals 
can be trained to breathe in an atmosphere containing a quantity of sul- 
phurous acid, that would prove immediately fatal to those unaccustomed 
to it.* 

VII. Idiosyncrasy. 

Whilst habit, as we have said, tends to diminish the activity of poisous, 
idiosyncrasy, on the contrary, has a tendency to increase their activity. 

As a familiar illustration of the influence of idiosyncrasy, we may men- 
tion the varied and well-known effects ou different persons of the volatile 
oil of grasses, or of their pollen, as many believe, inducing in some severe 
catarrhal symptoms (hay fever), but apparently having no action upon 
others. It is not uncommon to find that a small dose of mercury, which 
in most people would merely act as a mild laxative, will iu others produce 
alarming salivation. Nor can it be other than to peculiar idiosyncrasies 
that we can trace the different actions of alcohol. A debauch that would 
kill one man, does not apparently affect another. Christison tells a re- 
markable case of a man who took an ounce of solid opium without any 
effect, although he was quite unaccustomed to its use. The peculiarities 
of idiosyncrasy are to be noticed iu the different effects of drugs. There 
are cases on record where Epsom salts has been known to act as a nar- 
cotic, and opium a6 a purgative. Again, susceptibility to the action of 
poisons is ordinarily found to be increased by age. An old person is far 
more easily affected by opium than a young adult. Again, some things, 
according to Fodere, act as poisons to some animals, but not to others. 
Hogs, he says, can eat henbane; pheasants, stramonium; and goats, water 
hemlock, with impunity. Ogle has proved that rabbits can live on bella- 
donna, whilst Mitchell asserts the immunity of pigeons to morphia. Chris- 
tison doubts the accuracy of some of these assertions. But in every-day 
life experience proves that it is no mere old woman's saying, that " what 
is one man's meat, is another man's poison ;" for we find cases occasionally 
where mushrooms and pork and shellfish act as violent irritant poisons to 
one person, but have no action on a second. These peculiarities of indi- 
viduals it is most important should be borne iu mind in medico-legal 
inquiries, as otherwise symptoms due to quite different causes may be 
attributed to the effects of poison. 

VIII. Health of the individual, 

Usually the intensity of the action of a poison is impaired by disease; 
but this is by no means a universal rule. 

(a) The susceptibility to the action of poisons may be decreased by 

This "tolerance of drugs," as it is called, is very remarkable in the case 
of both organic and inorgauic poisons, but especially in the former. In 

* On Vitiated Air, by 0. Meymott Tidy, M.B., 1873. A paper read before the 
Association of Medical Officers of Health. 


dysentery, tetanus, mania, cholera, hysteria, and delirium tremens, there 
is a remarkable tolerance for opium. In typhoid fever stimulants can be 
borne in enormous quantity. In diseases of the lungs there is a special 
tolerance for antimony. In spinal paralysis large doses of strychnia may 
usually be given without any bad results. In tetanus, and also in con- 
tinued and yellow fever, there is ordinarily diminished susceptibility to 
the action of mercury. No doubt also persons in a state of melancholia 
are less susceptible than others to the action of poisons generally. 

(/S) The susceptibility to the action of poisons may be increased by 

This would necessarily occur where poisons are administered which 
would increase the symptoms of a disease from which a person was already 
suffering ; e. g.,.in a person suffering from inflammation of the stomach or 
bowels, an irritant poison would induce symptoms of more than usual irri- 
tation. The experience of the authors is that "like does not cure like." 
Again, in a patient predisposed to apoplexy, a very small dose of opium 
has been known to prove fatal. It is stated that in patients suffering from 
granular degeneration of the kidney, a small dose of calomel will some- 
times produce alarming symptoms. 

IX. Sleep. 

The action of drugs is impaired by sleep, for sleep may be regarded as 
a state of diminished activity. It is, of course, well known that a purga- 
tive does not act so rapidly during sleep as when the person is awake. 
The combination of opium with arsenic, e. g., retards the action of the 
arsenic by reason of the narcotic action of the opium. 

X. Food. 

The action of a poison is usually retarded if it be taken with food or on 
a full stomach, perfect contact with the mucous membrane being thereby 
prevented. The action, of course, is frequently mechanical, but not neces- 
sarily so. 

Circumstances leading us to suspect the Administration of Poison. 

When called to a suspected case of poisoning, make notes at the time, 
or at the earliest possible opportunity, briefly and chronologically, of 
everything that strikes you as important. Only enter facts in your notes, 
and let them be perfectly free from all technicalities. Above all, if you 
have a suspicion of foul play, watch the case closely, but unless your sus- 
picion is confirmed by well-observed facts, do not mention it to anybody, 
and under no circumstances talk about it, or publish it in the neighborhood 
or elsewhere. Your first duty is to save the life of your patient, your 
second is to assist justice in exposing and punishing crime. 

The first question we must consider is — What are the circumstances that 
would lead us to suspect poison had been administered? 

I. The symptoms appearing sudden!;/ in a person otherwise healthy, and 
their progress towards a fatal termination being rapid. 

When poisons are given with criminal intent, they are as a rule given 
in large doses, and consequently begin to act soon after they are adminis- 
tered. But besides the modifying actions of sleep and food, there are other 
important facts to be noticed. 

1st. Poisons may be slow in their action, especially when given in small 
repeated doses. This is the case with such poisons as arsenic, mercury, 
phosphorus, and nitro-benzol. With bad and poisonous food, the action 
is often very tardy. The subject of slow poisoning is bound up so curiously 
with popular literature and superstition, that it is no easy matter to say 


where falsehood ends and truth begins. Still chronic poisoning demands 
serious attention from the fact that such questions are not unfrequently 
referred to the Medical Jurist. The time occupied by a poison in bring- 
ing about a fatal result necessarily varies. There is always in these cases 
a great difficulty in proving guilt, because it is necessary to prove the 
absence of tendency to disease. And, again, cases of chronic poisoning 
may occur in those engaged in some trade or another, where the air may 
be charged with minute quantities of irritant poisons, such as are used in 
the business. 

2d. Many diseases cnme on very suddenly, such as acute diseases generally. 
Cholera and other severe epidemic diseases, and often the exanthemata 
are exceedingly sudden in their commencement. 

Again, the person attacked may not be " otherwise healthy." Poison 
may be administered when a person is ill, and thus suspicion be disarmed. 
Still, if violent symptoms, such as vomiting and purging on the one hand, 
or giddiness, delirium, or unusual drowsiness on the other, set in without 
any obvious or natural causes to explain their occurrence, we are more 
than justified in instituting a strict watch. Again, cases are on record 
where the health has been undermined by the slow exhibition of one poison 
as, e.g., tartar emetic, whilst the actual death has been brought about by 
a second poison such as strvchnia. As regards rapid and sudden death as 
a proof of poisoning, we must bear in mind that whilst, on the one hand, 
in many cases of poisoning death is very slow, on the other hand, in many 
cases of disease, death is sudden and unexpected. 

II. In a case of poisoning the symptoms will probably be dated as coining 
on soon after the taking a certain meal or some article of food. 

It may be regarded as strong evidence against the suspicion of poison 
being the cause of death, if no food or medicine has been taken for hours 
before the symptoms set in. On the other hand, it is a strong argument 
in favor of the suspicion, if the symptoms set in speedily after taking food 
or medicine. It is always advisable for the chemist or general practitioner 
to remember, supposing that the poisonous symptoms commenced after 
taking a dose of medicine, that the malicious may put poison into the very 
medicine that has been sent a patient, and so endeavor to disarm suspicion 
against the true criminal. 

But we must remember 

(a) Symptoms may come on after food or medicine which merely resemble 
those of poisoning. 

Many natural disorders come on after a full meal, such as, for example, 
apoplexy, or rupture of stomach from overdistension after long disease. 
Unwholesome and bad food may produce a sudden attack of English 
cholera. Immediate death, too, has more than once followed the mere 
drinking a draught of cold water when a person was overheated. 

(ft) Poisons may be administered in other ways than by the month. 

They may be applied to ulcerated surfaces, or they may be injected 
into the vagina or rectum, or under the skin, or they may be inhaled. 
The administration of chloroform or nitrite of amyl during sleep, and 
especially if the person slept with the mouth open, would be a matter of 
no difficulty. 

III. Symptoms coming on after a meal of which many have eaten, will be 
more or less complained of by several or by all who have partaken of it. 

This is a very strong reason indeed for suspecting poison, whilst, on the 
contrary, others having partaken of the same meal, and no bad effects 
resulting in their case, would lead us to an opposite conclusion. And yet 
this evidence is by no means conclusive. Poison may be in one part of a 
dish and not in another, or the symptoms may vary owing to different 


idiosyncrasies. Nor must we forget that certain foods, such as sausages, 
cheese, shell-fish, etc., are, at certain times, so unwholesome as to give rise 
to violent symptoms of irritant poisoning. In the case of cheese such 
effects are very common. If a dish has been mixed with poison and 
Beveral have eaten of it, probably the person who has eaten most will 
fare the worst, although this is not necessarily the case, because, as before 
stated, a small quantity of a poisou may prove fatal, whilst if a large 
quantity be swallowed, it may be vomited, and so produce no bad effects. 

Synrjjioms of Poisoning. 

The svmptoms produced by poisons vary. It may be well here, as far 
as possible, to systematize the general symptoms produced by poisons, 
reserving for our remarks on each, any special characteristics that its 
symptoms present. 

I. Symptoms of Corrosive Poisons. 

{Strong mineral acids, caustic alkalies and their carbonates — strong solu- 
tions of oxalic acid, corrosive sublimate, chlorides of antimony, zinc, tin, etc.) 

Immediate burning pain in the mouth, throat, and stomach, rapidly 
extending to the abdomen. Vomiting occurs very soon, followed by purg- 
ing. Blood is discharged pure or mixed. The mouth and throat will be 
found to be corroded. Speedy death will occur either from (1) shock, or 
(2) exhaustion, or (3) from perforation of the stomach or intestinal canal, 
or (4) from starvation by stricture of the gullet, or (5) from suffocation 
from injury to the glottis or windpipe. 

II. Symptoms of Irritants. 

(Arsenic, mercury, tin, lead, copper, phosphorus, iodine, cantharides, irri- 
tant gases. Every corrosive acts as an irritant, inflaming some parts whilst 
it destroys others, but there are many irritants that are not corrosives, such 
as salts of baryta, cantharides, etc.) 

The symptoms vary considerably both in intensity and rapidity of action. 
These differences depend largely on the solubility of the poison and the 
quantity swallowed. As regards solubility and its influence on the com- 
mencement of the symptoms, we may note that with some poisons, such as 
arsenious acid, a considerable delay may occur from their insolubility in 
water or in other liquids. The intense pain and dryness in the throat, 
usually produced by irritant poisons as soon as swallowed, is often, by 
reason of their insolubility, absent in the first instance, but supervenes in 
a later stage when the poison, dissolved more or less in the gastric fluids, 
comes in contact with the gullet in the act of vomiting. This broad dis- 
tinction between corrosives and irritants may be noted, that with the former 
the symptoms are usually immediate, whilst with the latter considerable 
delay in their appearance is not uncommon. By this test, therefore, we 
should be able to say whether a poison that had been swallowed was calo- 
mel or corrosive sublimate. 

After a certain time pain and great dryness of the throat is complained 
of. There is commonly great thirst, nausea, and vomiting; paiu and 
extreme tenderness of the abdomen, the pain being increased by pressure, 
purging with tenesmus, the discharges usually being mixed with blood ; 
hiccough, loss of voice, cold sweats, an irregular thready pulse, paiu in the 
region of the kidneys, with strangury. The patient, as a rule, is sensible 
to the last. Death will occur either from ( 1) shock to the nervous system, 
or (2) convulsions, or (3) exhaustion, or (4) starvation, or (5) suffocation 
from inflammation of the upper part of the windpipe. 

And here it is important to note two facts: (1), that anomalous symp- 
toms occasionally occur as the result of irritant poisoning, such as coma, 


paralysis, and tetanic spasms ; and (2), that some diseases, such, for exam- 
ple, as gastroenteritis, complicated with acute nephritis, closely simulate, 
as Dr. Anstie pointed out, cases of irritant poisoning. (" Medical Times 
and Gazette," March 2d, 1861, p. 239.) 

III. Symptom.? of Narcotics and Xarcotico-acrids. 

Of these we may distinguish several classes. The symptoms are more 
easily mistaken for disease than those produced by corrosives or irritants. 

A. Poisons that produce Sleep. 
(Such as opium.) 

Immediately, or in a short time after their administration, there is gid- 
diness, headache, dim sight, protrusion of the eyes, contraction of the pupils, 
noises in the ears, and drowsiness, passing on to insensibility. Vomiting 
is rare, and if it occurs, is a very favorable symptom. There is rarely either 
paralysis, convulsions, or tetanic spasms. Paiu and convulsions, however, 
are occasional symptoms towards the end of a case. Death may result 
from (1 ), apoplexy; (2), collapse; (3), apncea ; or (4), convulsions. 

B. Poisons that produce Delirium. 

(Such as belladonna, stramonium, hyoscyamus.) 

There is delirium, illusions of the senses, thirst, dryness of the throat, 
and dilated pupils. The other symptoms are very varied. Irritation of 
the stomach and bowels and dysuria are not uncommon. Sometimes we 
may have tetanic spasms, paralysis of the motor and sensitive nerves, coma, 
and insensibility. Death generally is ushered in by comatose symptoms, 
and rarely by convulsions. 

C. Poison? that produce Excitement. 

(Such as alcohol, ether, chloroform, Indian hemp.) 

Excitement of the brain and circulation, followed by great muscular 
weakness, nausea and vomiting, double vision, and want of co-ordination 
of movements, the patient at last passing into a condition of more or less 
complete coma, are the usual effects to be noticed. The smell of the breath 
will often be a well-marked diagnostic sign. These inebriants may to a 
certaiu extent act as irritants, the irritating action being very partial, and 
confined to the stomach, or, if inhaled, to the air-passages. Death may 
result (1 i suddenly from shock, but more generally arises (2) from cardiac 
paralysis, or (3) a state allied to apoplexy. 

D. Poisons that produce Convulsions. 

(Such as strychnia, and substances containing it.) 

The symptoms are violent paroxysms of rigid convulsions with great 
suffering, the risus sardonicus, tetauus or lockjaw; the mind, as a rule, 
not being much affected. Death results (1) from exhaustion, or (2) from 
suffocation, (3) or more commonly from interference with the free action 
of the respiratory muscles (for modes of death by strychnia, see "Lancet," 
July 19th, 1856, p. 72). (Tetanic convulsions simulating poisoning by 
strychuia, see Dr. Roberts, "Lancet," March 27th, 1858.) 

E. Poisons that kill by Shock: 

(Such as hydrocyanic acid, the action of which is usually so rapid as not 
to allow of special symptoms.) 

F. Poisons that produce Asphyxia, 

(Such as carbonic arid, carbonic oxide, sulphuretted hydrogen, etc.) 
Suffocation, with headache and drowsiness, are commonly found. Death 
is caused by asphyxia. 

Lastly, it may be noted that if a medical man has reason to suspect 


that a person is being poisoned, it will be advisable, if possible, to secure 
the services of a confidential nurse, and to order that the urine and vomited 
matters should be saved, the examination of which in all probability will 
yield us confirmatory evidence or otherwise. 

The General Treatment of Cases of Poisoning. 

And now we may examine the general principles that should guide us in 
our treatment of a case of poisoning, provided the patient be living. The 
indications are four : 

1. Get the poison out of the system as soon as you can. 

2. Neutralize what you cannot remove. 

3. Favor the natural elimination of the poison. 

4. Combat any dangerous symptoms that may arise. 

1. Remove the poison as soon as possible, either by mechanical means or by 
exciting the action of the stomach to discharge it. 

(a) Emetics. 

Emetics should not be given in cases of poisoning with the mineral 
acids, or with the caustic alkalies, or with oxalic acid, as in these cases 
the proper treatment is to neutralize the poison. Again, with prussic acid, 
it is useless giving an emetic, as the patient would be dead before it acted. 
In cases of poisoning by the salts of the alkalies and the alkaline earths, by 
phosphorus, arsenic, and the preparations of lead and copper, and by such 
poisons as opium, belladonna, etc., au emetic is indicated. We are strongly 
of opinion that the tartar emetic as an emetic should be discouraged. 
Torpidity of the stomach may interfere with vomiting, and if the antimony 
be retained the case is rendered more desperate than it was before it was 
given. We should recommend half-drachm doses of sulphate of zinc, or if 
this be not at hand, mustard and water in the proportion of a teaspoonful 
of mustard to a tablespoon ful of water, repeated every quarter of au hour. 
We object to the use of sulphate of copper altogether. It is itself a poison, 
and is uncertain in its action. If, however, it be given for want of auy- 
thing else, 10 grains will be a sufficient dose. 

(,5) Stomach-pump. 

Every medical man should have a stomach-pump in readiness and in 
working order. Unfortunately it is not always applicable in the treatment 
of poisoning, from the destructive action of some poisons, and the rapidity 
of the action of others. Its use is specially indicated in cases of poisoning 
by strychnia, alcohol, liquid chloroform, and opium, and in the early stages 
of arsenical poisoning, by which means portions adhering to the stomach 
may possibly be washed away. It must not be used under any circum- 
stances in poisoning by the corrosives, otherwise additional injury will be 

To introduce the stomach-pump, it is often necessary to place a gag with 
a hole in it to prevent the tube being bitten in the patient's mouth ; but if 
this can be dispensed with, so much the better. It is generally advisable 
to tie the gag in. Let the patient sit in a chair or lie upon a couch, with 
the head well thrown back. Having warmed and oiled the tube, and 
curved its extremity somewhat abruptlv, pass it to the back of the throat, 
and as soon as this is done bring the head a little forward and gently push 
the tube so that it may pass along the vertebra? into the pharynx. A slight 
difficulty may occur for an instant at the larynx, but it will only be mo- 
mentary. Keep the tube exactly in the median line. If the tube had 
passed into the trachea, the urgent dyspncea would at once show your error. 


Before you withdraw any fluid from the stomach, inject into it one or two 
pints of warm water, and take care never to withdraw at any time as much 
fluid as you have injected. This injection and withdrawal may he done 
several times. If the eyes of the tuhe become choked with undigested 
matters, immediately reverse the action of the pump so as to drive the frag- 
ments out. If this fails, withdraw the tuhe and clean it. With children 
the best tube to use is a large gum-elastic catheter, adapted to the pump 
with a piece of india-rubber tubing. 

To induce vomiting, however, such simple means as tickling the throat 
as far down as possible with a leather or merely with the finger may be 
often resorted to with advantage. 

2. Neutralize the poison yon are unable to remove. 

This is effected by antidotes. An antidote is defined by Johnson as "a 
thing given in opposition to something else." There are three kinds of an- 
tidotes ; chemical, mechanical, and physiological. 

(a) Chemical Antidotes. 

Take care your antidote is inert, or of it be poisonous, a poison that is 
certain to be neutralized by the poison that has been already taken. It 
is not sufficient that a chemical antidote should merely render a poison in- 
soluble in water, but also that it should render it insoluble in the fluids of 
the digestive tract. 

As illustrations of chemical antidotes may be cited, chalk and magnesia 
for acid poisons ; lemon juice or vinegar for caustic alkalies ; alkaline sul- 
phates for salts of lead and baryta ; common salt mixed with milk and white 
of egg for nitrate of silver, corrosive sublimate and verdigris ; tannic acid 
for morphia, etc. The fresh hyd rated sesquioxide of iron formed by pre- 
cipitating the tinctura ferri perchloridi with excess of ammonia has been 
much praised by many as a chemical antidote for arsenic and metallic 
poisons generally. 

(;J) Mechanical Antidotes. 

Their influence is essentially protective, the poison merely by their means 
being mechanically held in suspension. Flour and water, hydrate of mag- 
nesia, a mixture of chalk, castor oil, and water, are illustrations of me- 
chanical antidotes. In poisoning by phosphorus, corrosive sublimate, can- 
tharides, etc., such antidotes are most useful. In some cases of poison- 
ing, and notably with strychnia, the use of animal charcoal diffused in 
water, first suggested by Dr. Garrod, is most efficacious in removing the 
poison by its power of absorption, and when aborbed ceases to be delete- 

(y) Physiological Antidotes. 

A most elaborate series of observations on physiological antidotes has 
lately been made by a committee under the presidency of Dr. Hughes Ben- 
nett. These are recorded in detail in the "British Medical Journal." We 
caution the reader, however, against putting too much reliance on physio- 
logical antidotes, and especially upon results gathered from experiments 
on animals. It is difficult to poison a dog with arsenic, or a rabbit with 
belladonna: it is easy to poison a rabbit with arsenic, and a dog with bel- 
ladonna, and a man with either one or the other. Belladonna has no 
action on the pupils of pigeons, nor are they influenced by morphia, stra- 
monium, or hyoscyamus. Dogs will take atropin, and horses strychnia, 
in enormous doses. 

Some care, too, is needful before we conclude that a drug which in one 
respect seems antagonistic to another drug, is necessarily an antidote for it. 
This subject, however, is one we consider that at present, at any rate, rather 
belongs to the physiologist than to the medical jurist ; for the experiments 
have very little more than physiological interest. Because one thing con- 


tracts the pupil, anil another thing dilates it, it is folly to say that they are 
antagonistic drugs. And even allowing such antagonism to exist, the 
balance between the two poisons is too fine to allow us to regard them as 
antidotes. Possibly, for example, atropin, in some fixed proportion, may 
be an antidote to morphia ; hut it' you give too much, the patient may die 
from the poison given as the antidote. Under physiological antidotes, 
however, we may include the action of ammonia in poisoning by hydrocy- 
anic acid, and strong coffee or tea in opium or belladonna, etc. And that 
these are useful, there can be but little doubt. 

3. Favor in even/ possible way the decomposition and elimination of the 

On this question of poison elimination some difference of opinion exists. 
Dr. Anstie appears to hold that there is no tendency in the unaided ani- 
mal organism to get rid of poisons, and that remedies administered with 
the object of assisting elimination are, as a rule, powerless. Such a view 
seems contrary, to say the least, to the general experience that poisons 
pass out of the body through the agency of all the excretions. The kid- 
neys, of all elimiuatory agents, seem the most powerful, and hence, in toxi- 
cological investigations, we always examine the urine, if possible, for the 
poison. Alcohol, we know, is carried away by the breath, mercury by the 
skin, and most poisons by the bowels. The fact that some poisons are 
carried away by some of the secretions in preference to others, suggests the 
rule, in the treatment, to stimulate that organ which is most powerful in 
its action of getting rid of the poison. To eliminate lead from the system, 
it is customary to give iodide of potassium, although this may be regarded 
as a chemical antidote. Again, in opium poisoning we constantly rouse 
the patient, and make him walk about, to assist in the oxidation of the 

4. Lastly, combat special symptom* that may arise. And here it is difficult 
to give specific instructions. In alcohol, on the one hand, and in opium 
on the other, your chief reliance must be placed. Nor must the impor- 
tance of galvanism be overlooked. 

One general recommendation in all eases of poisoning may be made 
here: that is, never neglect by every possible meaus to preserve the tem- 
perature of the body. ("Dublin Medical Journal," 1865, p. 435.) 

Analytical and Microscopical Investigation. 

We reserve for the next chapter the chemical processes to be adopted in 
a toxicological investigation, limiting our remarks here to such general 
questions as may be suggested by the evidence or by the results of the 

1. Supposing a poison is found. 

(»■) If it be in a stool or vomit, was the vessel that contained them per- 
fectly clean before they were put in ? 

I ,; i If it be found in the food of which a person had partaken, was it 
maliciously introduced, in order to inculpate an innocent person? This, 
of course, will be a question for a jurv to decide. It should be remem- 
bered that the presence or absence of poison in food must always be con- 
sidered in conjunction with the circumstance that from unequal distribu- 
tion it may very likely be present in one part of a dish but not in another. 

(?-) If the poison be found in the urine, it is of all evidence the most 
important, because it is proof that the poison has passed through the body. 

A poison being found in the stomach after death, the counsel for the 
prisoner will probably suggest the following difficulties that you will have 
to meet. 


1st. That the quantity found is very small, and insufficient to accouDt 
for death. 

And this difficulty we must consider carefully. 

Say we have found a poison, and we are asked, is the quantity found, 
or the quantity that was probably swallowed, sufficient to cause death or 
to produce the symptoms described? Here, then, it is advisable to have 
clearly before your mind certain facts. 

A. All the poison that is swallowed is rarely absorbed. Some is got rid of 
either by 

(a) Vomiting, or 
{b) Diarrhoea ; 

(c) Whilst some, if death be rapid, remains in the stomach and intes- 
tines, and may be found there. 

B. The portion of the poison absorbed is not equally distributed over the 
whole body. — For it is well known that with mauy poisons the liver be- 
comes specially the home of the poison after absorption. 

C. As soon as a poison is absorbed by the system, elimination from the 
system commences. 

Arsenic, for example, is often entirely eliminated from the system after 
a fortnight. \ 

And hence note 

(a) From the time a poison is absorbed, the quantity in the body begins 
to diminish. 

> h | That death may be caused by a poison which is not discoverable by 
analysis after death. 

(c) That it is not necessary, in order that a poison should destroy life, 
that it should be in the body up to the last moment of the person's exist- 
ence. The poison strikes the blow, — this develops diseased action, and 
death results from the disease; but the poison struck the blow, and was 
therefore the true cause of death. 

D. The portion of poison found in the stomach and alimentary canal con- 
stitutes that portion of the pokon not absorbed, and therefore the portion over 
and above that which was necessary to destroy life. This excess, discovered 
by analysis, in the digestive tract, may form but a small portion of that 
swallowed. Hence the discovery of a very small portion in the stomach 
is no criterion of the quantity taken. 

E. The quantity found in a given organ (say the liver) is only a por- 
tion of the poison absorbed, and consequently may form, and probably 
does form, a very small part of the total poison swallowed. You cannot, 
therefore, judge of the amount of a poison swallowed by the quantity found 
in any one organ. 

F. The action of poisons on different persons is very variable. What will 
kill one man will scarcely affect a second. It is uuadvisable, therefore, in 
a court of law, to say what is the minimum dose (as you will often be 
asked) that will destroy life. All you can state is, what is the smallest 
dose that has destroyed life — what is the average dose — and what is the 
largest dose from which a person has recovered. 

In every case where possible, estimate the quantity of poison found in 
the contents of the stomach and alimentary canal, and also the quantity 
found in any special organ las the liver) submitted to analysis. And in 
drawing conclusions from your analysis, carefully bear in mind the follow- 
ing circumstances : 


(a) If there has been vomiting and purging, it is impossible (uuless 
all the vomits and stools are examined | to hazard a conjecture as to the 
quantity originally taken from the amount found in the alimentary canal. 
All you can say is that it is a quantity greater than that which you have 

(6) The unequal distribution of a poison and its constant elimination 
prevents us giving an opinion of the quantity absorbed, and much less 
of the quantitv swallowed by the amount we find in certain organs, or 
portions of organs. What we find by analysis in certain viscera is only a 
portion of that which was absorbed, and that only a portion of what was 

(c) If there has been no vomiting and no diarrhoea, and on analysis no 
poison can be found in the stomach and intestines, it follows that all that 
was taken has been absorbed. This quantity cannot be estimated accu- 
rately, because it is unequally distributed, unless the whole body be sub- 
mitted to examination, and even then the process of elimination would 
render the experiment imperfect. 

d The quantity taken, minus that absorbed, and which was really the 
portion that killed, may be estimated if — 

(1) The vomits and stools and the contents of the digestive tract be ex- 
amined, if there has been vomiting and purging; or, 
' (2) The contents of the digestive tract alone, if there has been no 
vomiting or purging. 

Hence our answer to the objection of counsel that the quantity found is 
very small and insufficient to account for death, is that the quantity found 
is only a portion of the quantity swallowed, and very possibly bears little 
or no relationship to it ; and further, that the portion found in the stomach 
was not the portion that destroyed life, but the excess over and above that 
which was needful to bring about a fatal result. 

Further, the analysis of different foods and medicines taken by the de- 
ceased is most important, as this may enable us to find the true source of 
the poison, and thus establish guilt or innocence. By comparative analy- 
ses of this kind, in a case submitted to one of the authors, he was enabled 
entirely to clear a person in custody on a charge of murder, and to prove 
the source of the poison from which the deceased died. 

2dly. It may be urged by counsel that some poisons are natural constitu- 
ents of the body. This defence requires consideration. 

(a) With respect to arsenic 

Orfila at one time imagined .arsenic to be a normal constituent of the 
body ; but he afterwards admitted his error when proof was demanded by 
the French Institute. " Superphosphate," which is largely used as manure, 
is manufactured with common oil of vitriol. This usually contains nota- 
ble quantities of arsenic, derived from the pyrites used in its manufac- 
ture. It is supposed that the arsenic which thus gets into the superphos- 
phate contaminates the plants grown on the soil to which it is applied. 
But this, we are convinced, is an error. Again, it is stated that arsenic 
is to be found in the fur of tea-kettles and boilers ; but it can scarcely, 
at anv rate, be in such a quantity as can possibly prove injurious. 
Chalybeate springs, it is true, frequently contain arsenic, but only in such 
quantities that a person would have to drink (taking an extreme case) 
some seventy-nine gallons, in order to have swallowed the yjjjth of a 
grain. Even in the mountain stream in Cumberland (Whilbeck), where 
probably more arsenic is found than in any other, the water has never 
been found to prove poisonous to anything but ducks. (" British Medical 
Journal," Oct. 18th, 1862, p. 425.) " Dr. Taylor has stated that a notable 


quantity of arsenic may be found in Thames mud. The authors have 
failed to find any trace of it. 

(,i) With respect to Copper. 

Deyergie, Lefortier, and Orfila consider it to be a normal constituent of 
all tissues, aud of the blood. They have also found it in the sweat. Signor 
Cattanei says it is not present in newborn infants! M. Barse has recently 
confirmed these investigations ; but English experimenters do not seem to 
have discovered it at all. We can, however, quite imagine traces of copper 
to be present in the body, derivable from two sources: (1) From articles 
of food ; and (2) from copper vessels used iu cooking. (_ Vide "Med. 
Times," Oct. 19th, 1844, p. 55.) 

(r) With respect to Lend. 

The same chemists who found copper have found lead. But there is. we 
consider, much reason to doubt their results, although it is true that the 
lead pipes and lead cisterns used for water, and especially if they are badly 
tinned, may be a means of conveying lead into the system. 

(<5) With respect to Manganese. 

In small quantities this has, no doubt, been found in the hair, in some 
urinary calculi, and in gallstones. 

We are not aware of questions being raised as to any other poisonous 
bodies than those we have mentioned being natural constituents of the 

3dly. It may probably be urged by counsel that the .symptoms de-scribed do 
not coincide exactly with the poison discovered ; aud hence that the poison 
found is the true cause of death is not proved. 

In answer to this we must show the great variation iu the symptoms that 
a known poison will produce, owing to the many modifying circumstances 
to which we have already referred. 

4thly. Although the poison is found, may it not, a counsel may urge, have 
been maliciously introduced after death f 

Such a thing has happened, although there is no case of such an act 
on record in England. Orfila, however, carefully investigated the sub- 
ject : and although he found corrosive poisons, as well as some irritants, 
would produce a change on dead tissue, still their action is strictly limited 
to the exact spot to which the poison is applied, no inflammatory appear- 
ance being visible beyond the spot, aud the line of demarcation between 
tissue acted upon and tissue unacted upou being perfectly well marked 
aud distinct. 

2. Supposing a poison is not found. 

It does not therefore necessarily follow that none has been taken, al- 
though we are of opinion that, with few exceptions, without there is chemi- 
cal evidence to prove a poison actually present, no charge of poisoning 
should be regarded as proved. Circumstances of course may explain its 
absence in the stomach after death, aud these have to be considered. It 
may be discharged by vomiting aud purging, although with sparingly solu- 
ble poisons, such as arsenic, we generally find some particles glued to the 
stomach by the products of inflammation. It may have evaporated, as 
might happen with volatile poisons, such as hydrocyanic acid, chloro- 
form, etc. It may be absorbed; and hence under all circumstances we 
should examine other organs besides the stomach. It may be decomposed, 
especially if a considerable time has elapsed between its administration 
and the fatal result. It is important, however, to remember (and we shall 
refer to the subject again), that some organic poisons, such a< strychnia, 
are not destroyed by contact with dead animal tissues, although the tissues 
themselves may be in a state of active decomposition and decay. It may 


have entered into new combination*, an example (if which is found in the 
conversion of areenious acid into a sulphide. Corrosive sublimate again 
may be changed to calomel or even the metal be entirely reduced. Lastly, 
the poiton maybe one which chemical analysis is unable to detect, or which, 
before death, has been entirely eliminated from the body. Thus, for example, 
antimony may be taken and cause death ; but its elimination will proba- 
bly be complete if as lung as a week intervenes between its administration 
and the fatal result (Mr. Herapath). 

Experiments on Animal* may furnish us with much useful information 
in casts of suspected poisoning, but their value must not be overestimated. 

Certainly if the food of which the deceased person had partaken 
proves fatal to some domestic animal, the evidence in favor of poisoning 
is strong. And, on the other hand, if an animal has eaten from the same 
food, and no symptoms of poisoning result, it must be regarded as strong 
evidence to the contrary. If you are told that the loud which the friends 
believed caused the patient's death, also killed some animal that acci- 
dentally ate it, inquire most carefully into the symptoms that manifested 
themselves in the animal. And yet it must be remembered that some 
poisnii- seem to be inert ou certain animals. Rabbits, M. Runge and Dr. 
Ogle tell us can live on the leaves of belladonna, hyoscyamus, and stra- 
monium. Dr. Weir Mitchell has pointed out the comparative immunity 
from the effects of morphia enjoyed by pigeons. We have seen a mass of 
maggots feeding off wheat soaked in strychnia. Unfortunately, too, our 
knowledge of the action of drugs on animals is as yet sadly incomplete. 

The effects on animals of vomited matters and of the contents of 
the stomach, constitute, at best, very doubtful evidence. Animal fluids 
secreted during disease, especially if at all putrid, and at times even au 
ordinary vomit, will prove poisonous to animals. Morgagni has related a 
case where the bile from the stomach of a child, who died from convulsions 
in tertian ague, killed a cock that eat it, and two pigeons inoculated with it. 

When you are called to a case of suspected poisoning, and you find the 
person dead, the following hints may assist you in note-taking: 

1. Note down the time you were sent for, the time of your first visit, 
and the time the person died. 

2. Inquire the time of the last meal or food or medicine taken before 
the symptoms appeared. 

■ '>. Note down everything the deceased was reported to have eaten during 
the last hours of life, and if any portions of these remain, take possession 
of them for further examination. 

4. Inquire the time the symptoms first set in, and what remissions 

■5. Note whether anybody else partook of the last meal with the deceased, 
and with what results. 

6. Note everything that is told you respecting the symptoms from which 
the deceased suffered from the time he was taken ill. 

7. If vomiting occurred, save, if possible, the vomit, takiug care espe- 
cially to preserve any deposit in the vessel. If ouly stains from the vom- 
iting exist, cut them out and preserve them. If there is any vomit left on 
the floor, soak it up with a sponge, and keep the sponge. If there is any 
urine, take charge of it at once. It is advisable to put these under seal 
before leaving the house. 

8. Note the position of the body at the time of your visit. 

9. Carefully inspect the room where the deceased is found. Preserve, 


without remark, all bottles, liquids, paper-packets, etc., that you find about; 
also any unwashed wine-glasses or tumblers from which poison may possibly 
have been taken. 

10. Note all you can learn respecting the previous illnesses of the de- 

11. Put down in writing, and in their own words, all communications 
made to you by those in attendance. 

Very important moral evidence may come uuder the notice of the 
medical jurist who may be called in to a suspected case of poisoning, and 
it is not right that he should neglect to attend to evidence of this nature. 
Such questions as these may jwssibly be of use in eliciting the history of 
the case. 

1. Has there been any special enmity between the deceased and the 
person suspected ? 

2. Has the person suspected been dabbling with poisons, or purchased 
any uuder false pretences, as e.g., saying it was to poison rats or mice? 

3. Has he been making inquiries about poisons? 

4. Has he interfered with the deceased having proper medical atten- 

5. Has he given a false version of the symptoms, and such as to show 
acquaintance with the usual effects of the poison ? 

6. Has he shown any anxiety to prepare food, or convey it to the de- 
ceased ? 

7. Has he prevented friends or relations being sent for during the illness 
of the deceased ? 

8. Has he been desirous of getting rid of any article of food, etc., left, 
of which the deceased partook ? 

9. Has he hurried the funeral arrangements? 

10. Has he attempted to tamper with any articles set aside for analysis? 

11. Has he any interest in the death or the deceased (burial club, life 
insurance, etc.)? 

12. Has he made any false statements to obtain a certificate of death? 

In Cages of Exhumation. 

1. Note the state of the coffin. 

2. Preserve some of the earth around the coffin for analysis. 

3. Let the body, if possible, be identified by a relative in your presence. 

4. Never use disinfectants, but if necessary wear a charcoal respirator. 

Post-mortem in Cases of Poisoning. 

In a post-mortem examination, we recommend you to make notes during 
the operation, for notes and memoranda, to be admissible in a court of law, 
must be made at the time of the examination. Hence, you must not after- 
wards make "a fair copy" of your notes for use in the witness-box. The 
original notes, although not evidence, may be used if necessary to refresh 
your memory. 

Previously to commencing a post mortem, have six wide-mouthed, glass- 
stoppered bottles in readiness, taking care they are well washed and cleansed. 
Also provide yourself with string, candle, sealing-wax, and seal. After 
you have placed the viscera in the bottles, tie the stoppers down with string, 
using no paper or calico to tie over them. Then seal the bottles securely. 
If you have no seal at hand, a key does very well. Let no disinfectants 
of any kind be used during the post mortem. 


The following hints of what you are to note may be of use: 

1. Note the time after death that the examination is made. 

2. Note the external appearance of the body, and the expression of the 
countenance. (In poisoning by corrosives, it appears anxious ; by narcot- 
ics, placid ; whilst where there has been convulsions, it will often appear 

3. Note the presence of rigidity, or cadaveric spasm. 

4. Note any marks of violence, blood-stains, etc. 

5. Note any appearances that may suggest murder or suicide. 

6. Note the external appearances of the stomach. Ligature both ends. 
Remove it without opening, and at once place it in a clean stoppered 

7. Remove the whole of the intestines, except the rectum, and preserve 
them unopened in another bottle. 

8. Remove and examine the rectum for foreign bodies. The presence 
of hardened fecal matter proves the absence of purging before death. 

9. Note the color of the throat, gullet, and windpipe, and examine them 
for corrosions and for foreign bodies. 

10. Examine the lungs, brain, and spinal cord. 

11. Remove the liver and gall-bladder, and preserve them for analysis. 

12. Remove and preserve the bladder and its contents. 

13. In the female, examine the genital organs carefully, and look for 
foreign bodies. 

14. Note all pathological appearances. Remember, you must endeavor 
to prove not merely that the deceased died from poison, but that death 
did not result from natural causes. 

It was formerly believed that the bodies of persons who died from poison 
putrefied rapidly. This, however, is proved to be a mistake. Indeed, 
with some poisons, such as arsenic, chloroform, strychnia, chloride of zinc, 
corrosive sublimate, etc., putrefaction seems to be delayed rather than 

Lastly, never allow the bottles and the substances you intend for exam- 
ination to be out of your custody for a moment ; never leave them, except 
under lock and key, and let them all be carefully labelled. 

We may here generalize on the post-mortem appearances found in cases 
of poisoning. 

(A) The Post-mortem Appearances of Corrosives. 

The corrosive action may be extensive or limited. The tissues may 
appear softened, or hardened and shrivelled. Some portions of the coats 
of the stomach, or of the gullet, may be destroyed, and perforations pro- 
duced, whilst other portions may appear gangrenous. In the gullet it 
is not uncommon to find a wrinkled, worm-eaten appearance, due to the 
contraction of the longitudinal and transverse fibres, and the removal of 
patches of epithelium. Other parts will be found intensely inflamed, with 
an extensive extravasation of blood in the cellular tissue. 

Note carefully the changes of color induced in the tissues by the action 
of different corrosive poisons. The black, charred appearance from sul- 
phuric acid ; the yellowish, or yellowish-green from nitric acid ; the slate- 
colored deposit of reduced mercury or of the black sulphide from corrosive 
sublimate are singularly characteristic. The hardened and crimpled 
appearance of the gullet is never noticed in disease, whilst gangrene of 
the alimentary tract is excessively rare. 


A question, however, will probably arise whether perforation may not 
be produced by other causes than corrosive poisons. 

1st. We note that perforation arising from ulceration, the result of idio- 
pathic inflammation, is comparatively rare. And it may even be further 
stated that perforation, resulting from the action of an irritant poison, is 
also very rare. Iu the case of perforation, the result of chronic disease, 
the absence of any staining or of extreme general inflammation will be 
important signs. Further, of course, analysis will prove the absence of 

2dly. Perforation -arising from softening of the coats of the stomach 
during life and their consequent rupture is of occasional occurrence. The 
rupture often happens after a meal upon sudden exertion, and is accom- 
panied with great pain, but without any diarrhoea, and probably with but 
very little vomiting. The patient, as a rule in these cases, dies in a state 
of collapse in from eighteen to thirty hours. This is very important to 
note, inasmuch as when such poisons as arsenic have produced perforation, 
there are no cases on record where it has been caused in so short a time 
even as thirty hours after the poison has been swallowed. In chronic 
perforating ulcers of the stomach, duodenum, etc., of which as many as 
twelve have been found in one stomach, the edges are generally greatly 
thickened, but very smooth, and more regular in form than those produced 
by the action of corrosive poisons. x\nd, again, the perforations in these 
cases of disease are generally of a well-marked conical shape, from the 
peritoneal opening being smaller than those of the other coats. As a rule, 
too, there are but few signs of acute inflammation ; indeed, not (infrequently, 
an unusual whiteness of the stomach will be apparent (Christison), whilst 
no poison will be found on analysis. 

3dly. Perforation may be produced after death by the solvent action of 
the gastric fluid. This peculiar action was first explained by the illustrious 
John Hunter. It occurs most comuumly in those that have died a violent 
death, such as from hanging, fracture of the skull, etc. ; but it is b)' no 
means confined to these cases. It will be found (1) That the opening 
usually exists at the fundus and cardiac, or greater end of the stomach, 
and probably in the posterior part ; but that this will be dependent on the 
position of the body. (2) That the opening is large aud irregular, and 
the edges pulpy. (3) That the mucous membrane of the stomach is not 
inflamed. (4) That there is no well-marked peritonitis, although some 
slight action may be noticed, if the gastric fluid has escaped, and come in 
contact with other organs. (5) That there are no changes in the throat, 
or gullet. (6J That during life there were no symptoms of poisoning, aud 
that after death no poison can be found on analysis. 

(B) The Post-mortem Appearances of Irritants. 

They are those of inflammation and its results. 

The redness of the stomach may be very slight, the surface being covered 
with a tenacious glairy secretion. Remember, however, that the stomach 
is alwavs slightly red during digestion ; that there is increased redness if 
the post-mortem has been delayed for some hours ; and that one often finds 
redness of a very marked degree in diseases where there has been no gastric 
complaint, or sign of poisoning, as, for example, after death by acute bron- 
chitis, or where brandy has been administered shortly before death. The 
stomach, too, if the post-mortem is uot made for some time after death, may 
have a yellowish or greenish appearance from the proximity of the liver. 

But the redness after death by irritants will usually be found to be ex- 
cessive, the coats of the stomach thickened, the submucous tissue loaded 


with extravasated blood, ulcerated, softened, gangrenous, or, it may be, 
hard and shrivelled. Up to the end of the duodenum black ramifying ves- 
sels aud black spots may often be seen, whilst the whole of the small intes- 
tines are more or less inflamed, ulcers being sometimes found in the large 
intestines. Inflammation may often be noticed in the larynx and air-pas- 

A very important question may arise here — how long after death can 
you distinguish inflammation, the effects of an irritant poison, from a post- 
mortem change. This rule is a safe one — Never allow mere redness of the 
mucous membrane to be a proof of inflammation; but if the redness be ac- 
companied with softeningaud putrefaction, with the deposit of glairy mucus, 
and with general opacity of the mucous membrane, you may safely con- 
clude that it is so. Gangrene, again, may be due to internal constriction, 
as in cases of hernia. The injection of vessels with black blood is found in 
enteritis and acute dysentery, and may be produced by the application of 
the mineral acids after death. You will know melanotic Sj>ots by their 
being well defined, and by the absence of general inflammation. Ulcers 
(not corrosions, for the one is produced by chemical means, whilst the other 
is strictly vital) may result from poison, or from disease: 

(a) Ulcers from poison are rare, and generally they are accompanied 
with extensive inflammation in the small intestines, and especially in the 
duodenum. They are usually discolored — the color depending on the 
poison from which they result. 

(,5j Ulcers from disease will probably be confined to the stomach, other 
parts being in a tolerably healthy condition. They are generally situated 
on the posterior surface, or along the lesser curvature, or in the neighbor- 
hood of the pylorus. They are usually round or oval, with a tolerably 
sharp outline, looking as if they had been punched out, the edges being 
thickened, raised, and smooth. Those from cancer may sometimse be very 

(C) The post-mortem appearances of Narcotics and Nareotico- A<rids. 

In poisoning by these substances, very possibly no characteristic post- 
mortem appearances will be discovered. They are rarely found to inflame 
the stomach or bowels. In the post-mortems of cases of poisoning by 
opium, fulness of the veins and sinuses of the brain, with effusion of serum 
beneath the membranes, at the base, or in the ventricles, with occasional 
extravasation of blood, are commonly found. 

Diseases that simulate Poisoning. 

There are many diseases, it must be admitted, that even au experienced 
medical jurist may confound with poisoning, and hence the extreme neces- 
sity for care in such cases in giving opinions. It is not often that any diffi- 
culty will be found after a post-mortem has been performed, because if 
disease has been the cause of death, such disease will probably be dis- 

1. Diseases that simulate poisoning by Corrosives and Irritants. 

(a) Acute Gastritis, which rarely, if ever, occurs idiopathically. 

(ft) English and Asiatic Cholera, and all other acute inflammation* 
of the Alimentary Canals, such as Dysentery, etc. — In cholera 
the vomit rarely contains blood, which it frequently does in 
irritant poisoning. In cholera, again, there is rarely pain 
or constriction in the throat, aud if it does occur it is the 
soreness of vomiting, aud is occasioned by it. In cholera, 


again, purging is an earlier symptom than it is in poison- 
ing. (See Dr. Letheby's paper, " Medical Times," Nov. 11th, 
1848, p. 76.) 

(?) In Ileus, Strangulated Hernia, etc., we generally have constipa- 
tion, the vomited matters being fecal. 

(<5) Rupture of Abdominal Viscera. — The rupture of the stomach 
during or directly after a meal, from probably an effort to 
vomit, has been a cause of sudden death. So also aneurism 
and the rupture of intestines, biliary ducts, uterus, and other 
viscera, the giving way of the Fallopian tubes, apoplexy of 
the ovary, etc. (all of which may be accompanied by symp- 
toms of collapse, by pain, vomiting, and death in less than 
twenty-four hours), have been mistaken for cases of poison- 
ing. The true cause, however, of all these will be revealed 
by the post-morteui. 

(e) Drinking a draught of cold water when heated has caused sud- 
den death. The absence of poison will be the main evidence 
in such a case. 

2. Diseases that simulate poisoning by Narcotics, etc. 

We must remember there are many diseases of the nervous centres in 
which coma and insensibility are prominent symptoms. In urajmic poison- 
ing, apoplexy, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, blows on the head, and sometimes 
even in fever, similar symptoms occur. Nor must we assert that the diag- 
nosis in such cases is easy, or the post-mortem appearances conclusive. 

In Epilepsy the history of the case, its chronic nature, the length of the 
fits, and the peculiarity of the paroxysms, will generally be sufficient to 
lead to a correct diagnosis. 

In Apoplexy note (1) the general premonitory symptoms ; (2) that it 
usually attacks the old ; and (3) that it is often impossible to rouse the 
patient from the apoplectic sleep. 

Whilst in poisoning (1) there are no premonitory symptoms ; (2) any 
may be the victims, and (3) that with such poisons as opium the patient 
can be roused. 

Idiopathic Tetanus, again, is not common. Note these peculiarities, which 
will enable you to distinguish between it and the tetanus of strychnia. 

(A) Idiopathic Tetanus — 

(1) Begins with difficult swallowing, and is followed by stiffness 

of the jaws, and then stiffness of the trunk and extremities. 

(2) The symptoms are at the first obscure, and develop gradually. 

(3) Opisthotonos does not come on until after several hours, or may 

be days. 

(4) There is rarely any intermission in the symptoms. 

(5) Death takes place after several hours or days, or recovery is 

very slow. 

(B) In the Tetanus of Strychnia — 

(1) The muscles of the jaw are rarely attacked at first, and may 

possibly escape altogether. 

(2) The symptoms are well marked at the commencement, and 

reach their full development in a few minutes. 

(3) Opisthotonos is a very early symptom. 

(4) There are usually intervals of complete intermission. 

(5) Death occurs commonly in less than three hours, or else recov- 

ery is very rapid. 


Agaiu, tetanus may be caused by other poisons than strychnia, but, if 
so, it will be usually complicated with other symptoms, whilst in strychnia 
poisoning tetanus is the one prominent symptom. ZS'or must we forget the 
tetanoid convulsions of hysteria and epilepsy, although the general his- 
tory of the case, and the character of the spasms, with their rapid alter- 
nations of relaxation and contraction, and the infrequeucy of a fatal 
termination will, as a rule, be sufficient to guide us to a right diagnosis. 

Again, a delirium simulating that produced by belladonna, etc., is often 
a svmptom of febrile diseases, and of other diseases, if accompanied by 
fever ; and, further, the action of intense cold, and also the symptoms of 
mental disorders in their incipient stage, may simulate alcohol poisoning, 
although the peculiar odor of the breath in alcoholism will, if well marked, 
often be a safe and conclusive sign. 

False Accusations — Malingering. 

Cases at times occur when persons will imagine themselves the victims 
of attempted poisoning. Such cases are excessively embarrassing, and 
need adroit management. Two considerations in dealing with them must 
be clearly before you. First, is there any truth in the story? and, secondly, 
finding the man is the victim of delusion, can he in any way be convinced 
or pacified? It would not be justifiable to treat in the first instance all 
startling stories as imaginary, or as the creation of a disordered brain. 
The patient should be urged quietly and by degrees to give a full account 
of his case, when before very long he will, no doubt, be found to commit 
himself with undoubted extravagances. Having discovered that the man 
is mad, you must not tell him so, but try to convince him, if possible, that 
he is wrong, or else (and, perhaps, usually this is the only way) admit all 
he says, and suggest a remedy. A case in illustration may be quoted. Dr. 
Letheby, a short time back, had a gentleman call upon him, asserting that 
his relatives were poisoning him with nitrate of silver, which they put into 
every article of food of which he partook. He requested analyses made of a 
large number of samples he had from time to time collected. Dr. Letheby 
began to urge the extreme improbability of such a thing, but he immedi- 
ately explained the whole matter by saying, "that his relations had dis- 
covered that metals were good conductors of electricity, and that their 
intention was to saturate his system with silver, so as to render his body a 
conductor, and extract from him of a night when he was asleep, by elec- 
tricity, secrets of which he imagined himself the custodian." The story 
being clearly the invention of a lunatic, Dr. Letheby entirely succeeded 
in quieting the man's mind by agreeing with him as to the power of metals 
to conduct electricity, but assuring him that if he always slept on a sheet 
of india-rubber, which was a non-conductor, it would entirely frustrate 
the designs of his friends to extract his secrets. The man went away 
entirely satisfied with the remedy suggested. 

Nor, again, must we forget that cases of malingering may occur. One 
of the authors has referred, in the " London Hospital Reports," to some cases 
of this kind that came under his own observation (vol. ii, p. 269). 'When 
in doubt, do not treat the case lightly — a day or two will generally reveal 
the facts. 

Lastly, in drawing up a report of a case of suspected poisoning, state: 

1. The time, day of the mouth, day of the week, and the hour in every 


2. State the facts seriatim, without any technicalities, never indulging 
in hypotheses, and never using ifs and bids, but state 

(a) Facts of a medical nature. 

(/3J Facts you have yourself seen and observed. 

3. Then draw your conclusions on the facts stated. 

(a) Cause of death, in your opinion. 

(,3) Why you thiuk the death unnatural (or vice verm). 

Classification of Poison*. 

Great difficulties have been experienced by writers on poisons in the 
matter of classification. Nor is this to be woudered at, as classifications 
at best are merely artificial. Classifying poisons according to their effects 
Foder£ made six classes, viz.: (1) Astringents; (2 1 Rubefacients; (3) 
Corrosives or Escharotics; (4) Narcotico-Acrids ; (5) Narcotics; (6) 
Septics or Putrefacients. This classification was adopted by Paris and 
Gordon Smith. Oitila and Devergie made four classes, viz. : (1) Irri- 
tants ; (2) Narcotics; (3) Narcotico-Acrids; and (4) Septics. Taylor 
and Christison both take the first three of these only, viz. : (1) Irritants ; 
(2) Narcotics; and (3) Narcotico-Acrids; whilst Guerin makes only two 
classes : (1) Irritants, and (2) Sedatives. 

All these classifications of poisons are more or less objectionable, and 
we therefore propose adopting the more simple, if less scientific plan of 
arranging them according to their origin or natural sources, viz. : 

(1) Mineral. 

(2) Vegetable. 

(3) Animal. 

(4) Gaseous. 



Before proceeding to describe the method to be adopted in the exami- 
nation of the contents of a stomach in a case of suspected poisoning, one 
or two remarks of a general character may not be altogether out of place, 
inasmuch as in a matter of such grave importance as a trial for murder, 
every minute detail has peculiar importance. Before commencing your 
chemical analysis it is most unadvisable, for many reasons, to be hunting 
about for the various symptoms that manifested themselves during life. 
If they are brought before you, well and good — but even then be careful 
not to place too high a value upon them. For first, the guess as to what 
has been taken is often wrong; and secondly, symptoms are not infallible 
guides, for irritants have often produced the symptoms of narcotics and 
narcotics of irritants. 

Let your analysis in every ease be complete and systematic. Nothing 
can justify any other method of procedure. For if you confine your experi- 
ments to a mere search for a suspected poison, it may not be there at all, 
and something else may, and you have then lost a portion of your material ; 


ami further, more than one poison may be present, the discovery of which 
may materially aid in clearing up the case. Let every examination, there- 
fore, be part of a general scheme we are quoting in substance from a 
paper of Dr. Letheby's) whereby the search tor all poisons may be at 
once accomplished. If this is not done your only alternative is to guess 
at the poison that is to be sought for, or else to divide your material into 
as many parts as there are poisons to be found. In the first case, the 
chemist lends himself to all sorts of idle rumors, to hearsay gossip, and to 
the chance of being grossly deceived, and, therefore, seriously wrong in 
his guesses ; whilst in his search for some particular thing, which was never 
present, he uses up his material, and with it, the only rueaus at his disposal 
for the discovery of crime. Besides which, a proceeding conducted after 
such a fashion must always prejudice the judgment of the operator, and 
destroy the confidence of all who are interested in the inquiry, by makiug 
it appear that the principles and powers of chemistry are uncertain, that 
thev are greatly subordinate to the other portions of the case, and that 
they can never be made an independent or primary part of the investiga- 
tion. In the second case, as we need hardly say. the operator would be 
adopting the best possible means of insuring a failure; for if the poison 
be preseut in very small quantity, the division of it into many parts would 
be a certain way of baffling the investigator. 

1. When you receive materials for a tpxicological analysis, note at the 
time in writing 

(a) The person from whom you received it. 
(6) The date upon which you received it. 

(c) The place at which it was delivered to von. 

(d) The number and description of the articles received. 

(e) The state I >. e., whether securely sealed or not) in which they 

were handed to you. 

2. The materials sent for analysis should be forwarded by hand and not 
by any public conveyance, and should be delivered to the analyst himself. 

3. After they are delivered to you, never allow them out of your sight 
except under lock and key, no duplicate key being in the possession of a 
second person. 

4. The analysis must throughout be conducted by yourself, and by 
yourself only. 

5. When you open the bottles or jars do not break the seals, but cut 
ihem out unbroken, and preserve them for identification, if necessary, in 
the witness-box. 

6. Remembering the volatility of many poisons, let there be no delay 
in the commencement of the analysis. 

7. Always examine the contents of the different bottles or jars sepa- 
rately. Of course, if different viscera be put into the same jar, then there 
is no object, as a rule, in making separate analyses of the different viscera. 

8. The quantities of every solid should be weighed, and of every liquid 
(such as the contents of the stomach) measured. 

9. Never subject the whole of your materials to analysis at first, for you 
may have an accident, or it may be necessary for further analyses to be 
made. In examining, say the stomach and its contents, take about one- 
third (or one- half, if the quantity be small) and seal the remainder down 
securely, preserving the bottle under lock and key. If you have au acci- 
dent which may happen to the most skilful), or if you wish to confirm 
your results, you will then be able to operate on the half of what you have 


left, and even then leave sufficient, if the court sees fit, for a further ex- 
amination by some other analyst. 

10. Take care that the apparatus you employ is thoroughly clean, and 
only use such reagents as you have yourself proved to be pure. 

11. In testing for a poison always begin by its most characteristic reac- 
tion. If one test, however, fails, do not immediately conclude the absence 
of the poison, but try a second test, remembering how trivial circumstances 
interfere with some reactions. And further, never be satisfied of the pres- 
ence of a poison by a single reaction, as certainty can only be established 
by a combination of tests. 

12. Never jump to conclusions on the results of your analyses. Sup- 
pose, e. g., a piece of clean copper was coated when boiled in a hydrochloric 
acid solution. Do not say it is mercury, or that it is arsenic, however much 
it may look like it, until by further experiment you have proved it is so. 

13. Reduce your solutions in testing to as concentrated a state as possi- 
ble, as the reactions with small quantities, when they are diffused through 
a large bulk of liquid, may escape notice. 

14. Note that although we say a given test will give distinct reactions 
with a minute fraction of a grain of a poison, we do not thereby intend to 
imply that such a minute quantity can be discovered when present in com- 
plex organic mixtures. 

15. In all cases, if possible, determine the quantity of the poison present. 
Remember, however, that the chemical evidence is not defective, although 
the quantity of poison found is less than that required to kill (vide page 66). 

In examining the stomach, first of all empty the contents into a measure 
glass, and note the quantity- Then open the stomach, and spread it out 
on a clean white plate, and note in writing its internal appearance. Now 
take a large hand magnify ing-glass, and carefully inspect the surface. In 
this way you may possibly find pieces of leaves, fruits, seeds, or roots ; or 
adherent powders, such as magnesia, calomel, or arsenious acid ; or crys- 
tals of oxalic acid, or shining particles of cautharides, or colored metallic 
sulphides (such as the yellow sulphide of arsenic, or the orange sulphide 
of antimony); or you may detect some sooty matter, such as is generally 
mixed with arsenic when it is sold retail, or blue coloring matters, such as 
are ordinarily found in the various vermin killers; or you may find pieces 
of lucifer matches and their coloring matters, if these have been the cause 
of death. Whatever you find, however, let them be carefully preserved. 
In a similar manner examine the intestines from end to end. 

In examining the contents of the stomach. Note — 

1. The quantity by measure. 

2. The odor; — such poisons as alcohol, chloroform, carbolic acid, hydro- 
cyanic acid, opium, may thus perhaps be detected. 

3. The color; — the mineral acids, e. g., are indicated by the contents 
having a dark, grumous, charred appearance. 

4. The acidity or alkalinity. 

5. The consistency and apparent composition. You may be able to say 
how long before death the person had a meal, and of what that meal con- 
sisted. Also in suspected cases of poisoning in childreu, note the presence 
or absence of starchy matters, milk, etc. 

Systematic Analysis. 

We are indebted largely to Dr. Letheby for the following method of 
systematic analysis in poisoning cases. 



Take one-third of the contents of the stomach, and strain them through 
a piece of new muslin. Carefully examine the solid materials on the 
muslin with a hand leus for portions of leaves, seeds, or other bodies that 
may be present. 

We have found it very useful to keep specimens of the seeds of common 
fruits preserved in little bottles in spirit, so that we may at once be able 
to compare any seeds found in the stomach with those of known fruits. 
There will be no difficulty in detecting some of the larger seeds or their 
coverings, such as those of croton, whilst the smaller seeds, such as those 
of the poppy, belladonna, hyoscyamus, digitalis, etc., can be easily recog- 
nized by their peculiar markings. 

And now, having examined the naked-eye appearances of the stomach, 
and its solid contents, mix the whole together in a clean wide-mouthed 
glass bottle. Stand this in some warm water in a basin, and cover the 
mouth of the bottle over with a clean glass plate (Fig. 2), upon which a 
drop of a solution of nitrate of silver has been so placed that it will be 
freely exposed to the vapors arising from the fluid in the bottle. 

In a very short time, if hydrocyanic acid be present, the drop of silver 
solution will turn white from the formation 
of a cyanide of silver. If examined by the 
microscope, this deposit will probably ap- 
pear crystalline, the crystals being especi- 
ally well marked about the edges; but the 
deposit may not be crystalline, from its ad- 
mixture with chlorine, bromine, iodine, or 
their hydrogen acids, and yet be due to 
hydrocyanic acid. The deposits of argen- 
tic bromide or iodide may be known by 
their not being perfectly white, as well as 
by the peculiar odor of these bodies, which 
is readily detected even in small quantities. 
Cyanide of silver is insoluble in nitric acid 
at ordinary temperatures, but soluble at a 
boiling heat; chloride of silver being insoluble in nitric acid, hot or cold. 

Immediately after the removal of the glass plate with the silver salt, 

Fig. 2. 

place over the bottle, in a similar manner, another glass, having upon it 
a drop of a solution of caustic potash ; allow this to remain for a short 
time, and after removing it at once take the bottle out of the water, and 
put the stopper in. Touch the spot of potash solution with a drop, on a 



glass rod, of a mixed solution of proto- and persulphate of iron, when, if 
hydrocyanic acid be present, a brownish-green precipitate is produced, 
which becomes blue (Prussian blue) ou the addition of a little dilute 
sulphuric acid. 

Liebig's test may, if necessary, also be tried in the same way. (See 
Hydrocyanic Acid, i 

Now put the portion of the contents to be examined into a retort con- 
nected with a Liebig's condenser and a well-cooled receiver, as arranged 
in Fig. 3, excepting that the retort must, under no circumstances, be ex- 
posed to the naked flame, but a salt-water bath must in this, as in every 
other case, be employed. Distil over about one-sixth of the quantity in 
the retort. If free hydrocyanic acid be present, it will be found in the 
distillate. (This is to be tested as directed under Hydrocyanic Acid.) If 
hydrocyanic acid be obtained in this manner, the contents of the stomach, 
not being alkaline, the hydrocyanic acid was present in a free state; but 
if the contents were alkaline before distillation, it must have been present 
in the original liquid as a cyanide, however it may have been administered. 

The distillation should now be continued almost to dryness. In the 
distillate other volatile poisons will be found, and their presence for the 
most part may easily be detected by their odor, such, e.g., as the volatile 
oils, alcohol, chloroform, ether, turpentine, carbolic acid, uitro-benzol, 
benzol, etc. Appropriate tests must then be employed for these. If there 
is no evidence of any volatile poisons, return or reject the distillate, acidu- 
late the contents of the retort with a few drops of pure sulphuric acid, and 
once more distil into a small receiver, containing either nitrate of silver 
or a potash solution, so as to fix any acid that may come over. Any 
cyanide present will now evolve its cyanogen as hydrocyanic acid. The 
potash of silver solution may then be tested. 

If the conteuts (already acidulated with pure sulphuric acid") are very 
thin and watery, it will be advisable to concentrate them to the consistence 
of a thin paste by evaporation on a water-bath. This is, however, seldom 
necessary. Treat all the acidulated materials with about twice their bulk 
of alcohol, and allow the mixture to stand in a warm place for about twelve 
hours, occasionally giving the bottle a shake. 

Filter the liquid through thick blotting-paper: 

(A") Preserve the solid matters ou the filter-paper. 
(B) Through one-half of the clear filtrate pass a stream of well-washed 
sulphuretted hydrogen for some short time. (This is conveniently gener- 
ated in an apparatus represented in Fig. 4.) If arsenic, or sugar of lead, 

or corrosive sublimate, or tartar emetic, or any 
of the metallic chlorides soluble in alcohol are 
present, a precipitate will be formed, whilst any 
change of color produced by a minute trace of 
metallic salts is best noted by comparing the 
color of that portion of the filtrate through 
which the sulphuretted hydrogen has been 
passed with that portion unacted upon by the 
gas. If there is any sign of a precipitate, the 
gas should then be passed for a considerable 
time through the whole filtrate. After stand- 
ing for twenty-four hours, the solution should 
be filtered, and the precipitate on the filter- 
paper examined for the several metals by ap- 
proved chemical processes. If at this stage of the examination distinct 
evidence was obtained of the presence of arsenic, it would be advisable to 



take the whole of the solid matters and of the liquid contents, mix them 
with pure hydrochloric acid, and distil them in a retort to dryness, fresh 
hydrochloric acid being afterwards poured on the materials in the retort 
and again distilled. By this means you will obtain a clear distillate con- 
taining all the arsenic as a chloride, and rendering the estimation of the 
quantity present easy. If no results are obtained by passing sulphuretted 
hydrogen through the filtrate, allow it to stand for twenty-four hours 
uncovered, so that the gas may escape. Add now to the whole filtrate an 
excess of a solution of subacetate of lead, and filter. 

((_') The precipitate contains, besides gummy matters, etc., sulphuric, 
phosphoric, oxalic, and other vegetable acids such as meconic acid, in com- 
bination with lead. Diffuse this precipitate through water, and pass sul- 
phuretted hvdrogen through it to complete saturation, judging when it is 
complete by the solution blackening lead paper. Filter off the sulphide 
of lead formed, and examine the filtrate for the several acids. 

(D) Through the filtrate, after the precipitate produced by the acetate 
of lead has been filtered off, pass sulphuretted hydrogen until all the lead 
which was added in excess is thrown down. This means of getting rid of 
the lead, although more tedious, is infinitely preferable to any other method. 
Filter off the lead sulphide, and evaporate the filtrate in a beaker almost to 
dryness ; add to this a drop of acetic acid and about a drachm of water, and 
filter. Evaporate once more the filtrate almost to dryness, add to it a few 
drops of water, and supersaturate with a solution of pure caustic potash. 
Put this into a long narrow test-tube, and shake it up thoroughly with 
three or four times its bulk of ether, and allow the whole to staucl until 
the ethereal and watery solutions have completely separated. Very rarely 
will any difficulty be experienced in this, but if such difficulty occur, and 
the ether refuses to separate kindly, either try to break down the vesicles 
of the ether with a glass rod, or else add a little more ether and a little 
more water. And now carefully decant the colorless ethereal 
solution. In drawing oft' the ether we adopt the following 
plan : Fixed to a pipette of large size we have an elastic india- 
rubber ball ; this we exhaust by pressure before placing the 
pipette in the fluid. Having pressed out the air, the pipette 
is to be introduced, care being taken that the end of the pipette 
does not reach below the ether laver (Fig. 5). In this way 
the whole of the cl<*ir ethereal solution will be drawn up into 
the glass tube as the elastic ball resumes its original state. 
Again and again, if needful, the aqueous solution must be 
treated with fresh quantities of ether. Toxicologists differ a 
little as to the best solvent to be employed. We prefer in the 
first instance the use of ether, perhaps from the circumstance 
of being accustomed to it. Most of the organic alkaloids, such 
as strychnia, brucia, veratria, nicotina, conia, aconitina, atro- 
pina, quinia, cantharidic. etc., are taken up by it, whilst its 
action on some others, such as morphia and cinchonia, is very IJW W 
limited. If, therefore, after using ether, there were the slight- 
est signs of the presence of morphia or of some other bodies, chloroform 
should then be used for their more perfect extraction. It is most impor- 
tant that we should familiarize ourselves with the taste of certain alkaloids, 
such as the bitter of strychnia, a^ so much may be learned during the prog- 
ress of an investigation by the taste of residues. The application, too, 
of a minute portion of a residue to the inside of the gums, enables us to 
decide better than by any chemical tests, the presence or absence of such 
bodies as cantharidiu, aconite, etc. Such a method of investigation should 
never be neglected. 

Fin. 5. 



(E) Put the clear ethereal solution into a small flask fitted with a long 
tube and connected with a receiver kept perfectly cold, and apply a gentle 
heat, collecting and saving the ether that distils over (Fig. 6). 

(F) The residue in the flask should now be dissolved out with a little 
dilute acetic acid, and filtered if turbid, so as to separate any fatty matters 
that may be left. The residue from this will, in many cases, be sufficiently 
pure to allow us at once to apply our tests, but if not, it must once more 
be treated with potash, and the alkaloids again taken up with ether. 

The ethereal residue must now be examined for the alkaloids by the va- 
rious tests to be hereafter described. 

It must be borne in mind that the action of the color tests (as in testing 
for strychnia), is considerably interfered with by the presence of such a 
body as piperin, and by spices that are not unlikely to be present in the 
stomach. To get rid of these impediments to the test, treat the ethereal 

residue with a few drops of pure concentrated sulphuric acid, and allow 
the mixture to stand for twelve hours in a warm place. The strychnia is 
not injured by the acid in the least degree, but the other organic substances 
will be charred. Dilute with water, supersaturate with potassic carbonate, 
and again treat with ether, when the pure alkaloid may be obtained. 

Supposing that no reaction is produced with the color tests, it is always 
advisable to try the effects of the residue on a frog in the manner described 
under Strychnia. 

(G) Now take all the solid contents left on filter-paper A, cut up the 
stomach itself, and any other solid matters to be examined, into very small 
pieces, bruise them in a mortar, place them in a large flask, add to them 
a mixture of two parts of water and one part of pure hydrochloric acid, 
and slowly, and by degrees, bring the mixture up to the boiling-point. 
Do not, however, let it boil fast, or for more than a few minutes, and after- 
wards set it aside to cool, and when sufficiently cold, filter. 

(H) Preserve the materials on the filter-paper. 

(I) To the clear filtrate placed in a glass flask add one or two small 
pieces (U in. X £ in.) of pure copper-foil ; the copper should be thoroughly 
cleansed, first by igniting it in a Bunseu burner, then acting upon it for a 
minute with nitric acid, and afterwards thoroughly washing with water. 
In this way the copper will be rendered perfectly bright, and after clean- 
ing, should not be touched with the fingers. Introduce the copper-foil into 
the clear hydrochloric acid solution, and boil. If the copper becomes 


coated, then add fresh pieces of copper, piece by piece, until there is no 
longer any perceptible discoloration of the last piece that was added. 
Now remove the pieces of copper, and having washed and dried thera 
between folds of bibulous paper, examine the deposit, whatever it may be 
(mercury, arsenic, antimony, etc.)j by the appropriate tests, hereafter 

i K T;ike all the materials left on the filter-paper H, and incinerate 
them iu a Berlin porcelain crucible. Act on the residue with nitric acid, 
and having diluted with water, filter, and pass sulphuretted hydrogen 
through the filtrate. In this way any lead, or other substances not dis- 
solved out by other means, will be discovered. 

Up to this point we have chiefly spoken of the examination of the 
stomach and its contents. It will be noticed, however, that precisely the 
same process may be adopted, with some slight modifications, when exam- 
ining the tissues. They should be cut up very fiue, and, as far as possible, 
broken up in a mortar into a pulpy mass. Digest them for some hours in 
spirit and water, acidulated with hydrochloric acid, aud proceed as with 
the contents of the stomach. 

Although we are strongly of opinion that the process just described is 
the oue most generally applicable, still, under some circumstauces, we 
admit that it may be desirable to search for the alka- 
loids before proceeding with our examination for the 

The following plan in such a case is the one adopted 
by the authors: Having examined the stomach and its 
contents for volatile poisons, in the manner already 
described, and also, if necessary, for phosphorus, acidify 
in slight excess, with acetic acid, which has the advan- 
tage of forming very soluble salts with the alkaloids. 
Evaporate to dryness over a water-bath (Fig. 7). In 
this way any blood in a great measure will be broken 
up. The residue should now be boiled, first with water 
acidified with acetic acid, and filtered; and then with alcohol acidified 
with acetic acid, and filtered. The filtrates should then be mixed together, 
and set on one side to cool, when any fatty matters that may collect on 
the surface can be without difficulty removed. 

Evaporate the liquid to dryness at a low temperature, collecting and 
preserving the spirit that distils over. If fatty or insoluble matters sepa- 
rate during the distillation, they must be got rid of by filtration. 

Dissolve the residue in a little pure water, and add to it a slight excess 
of bicarbonate of potash. Warm gently. When cold, shake up with ether 
or chloroform, and proceed as already directed in the last process. This 
process was that originally suggested by Stas. 

Now collect all the materials that are on the filter-papers together, and 
cut up such solid tissues as you may have to examine into very small 
pieces, and test them for mineral poisons. For this purpose we strongly 
recommend the process of Reinsch ; that is, the heating all the materials 
with a mixture of one part of hydrochloric acid, and two of water, filter- 
ing, and then boiling, with some pieces of pure copper-foil, in the manner 
already described. 

It is right, however, that we should give here in detail the process of 
Fresenius and Von Babo for the destruction of the organic matters, a 
process which, although it has been favorably received by many, is one 
which we are convinced is neither a desirable nor advisable one for use in 
practical investigations. 

Fresenius's process is as follows: Put the materials to be examined into 


a large porcelain dish, and add to them about an equal weight of hydro- 
chloric acid and a little water, so as to make the whole into a thin paste. 
This must be heated on a water-bath. Add to the hot liquid about thirty 
grains of powdered chlorate of potash. Stir the mixture frequently, and 
from time to time continue the addition of the chlorate, until the mass 
becomes of a light yellow homogeneous character, adding now and then a 
little water, to make up for loss by evaporation. Continue to apply heat 
until the liquid ceases to give off any odor of chlorine. When cold, strain 
the liquid through linen. Wash the solid residue with hot water, and 
evaporate down the whole of the filtrate to a small bulk, and again filter. 

The next part of the process is to reduce any metallic oxide that may 
be in solution, and which will be present as a high oxide, to a lower grade 
of oxidation by heating with sulphite of soda. This being done, sulphu- 
retted hydrogen is to be passed through the solution, and the steps of an 
ordinary systematic analysis is then all that is necessary. 

We must just refer to one other process, viz., that suggested by Flandin, 
of breaking up the organic matters with heat and sulphuric acid. 

We are conscious that possibly some will object to the use of subacetate 
of lead in the process we have recommended; but inasmuch as the lead is 
not to be added until we have entirely completed our search for metallic 
poisons, we are of opinion that such objections are immaterial. 

Further, considering that the verdict of a jury, and consequently the 
life or death of a prisoner is frequently dependent on a chemical analysis, 
the results we obtain by our tests should in all cases be something more 
than questionable or doubtful reactions, about which a possible difference 
of opinion may exist. We consider it, therefore, unnecessary to enter into 
any descriptive detail, as others have done, of processes for the detection 
of millionths of a grain by such methods as the collection of microscopic 
sublimates, which we admit are as exquisitely beautiful, as they are, in 
our opinion, totally unfitted for practical investigations. If such poisons 
as arsenic, calomel, tartar emetic, corrosive sublimate, and oxalic acid, 
cannot be detected by their reactions in a test-glass, we are doubtful 
whether we should ever be justified in giving positive evidence of their 
presence on a criminal trial, by their microscopic form, and microscopic 
reactions. These are all very well as confirmatory tests, but nothing more. 
To build evidence entirely upon them in a criminal ease is dangerous in 
the extreme. 

Lastly, although we have given a detailed account of methods of syste- 
matic analyses, such as we ourselves adopt in toxicological investigations, 
it would not be fair to conclude this chapter without warning the operator 
that he must be prepared at every turn to encounter numerous difficulties, 
which are as impossible to be described as they are unexpected, and the 
remedies for which can alone be suggested by his own chemical knowledge 
and manipulative skill. (For Experiments on Dialysis in Toxicological 
Inquiries, see "Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 12th, 1863, p. 611.) 





Varieties — Circumstance? affecting its luminosity — Solubility — Symptoms, etc.. of 
Poisoning — Treatment- Post-mortem Appearances — Chronic Poisoning — The 
Lucifer Disease — Precautionary Measures — Tests; — Toxicological Analysis — 
Cases of Poisoning. 

(P = 31. Sp. gr. of vapor, 4.42; boils at 288 3 C. ; fuses at 44= C. ; takes 
fire at about 60 D C.) 

Phosphorus assumes different allotropic forms, of which, amongst others, 
are the following: 

1. Clear Transparent Variety. — This is yellow, soft, waxlike, and taste- 
less in the solid form, but has a sharp, pungent flavor in solution. It has 
the odor of garlic. The sp. gr. varies from 1.848 to 1.853. It is a non- 
conductor of heat. It volatilizes at 44° C, the fumes in a dark room ap- 
pearing luminous. 

2. White Opaque Variety (Rose). — This is formed by the action of light 
on the yellow phosphorus when kept under water. The white opaque 
crust forms most readily when the water contains an abundance of cal- 
careous matter. Sp. gr. is 1.515. 

3. Black variety (Thenard) is produced when ordinary phosphorus is 
melted and suddenly cooled to CP C. 

4. Bed variety i Schrotter) is formed by heating yellow phosphorus for 
thirtv or forty hours in an atmosphere in which it cannot oxidize, aud at 
a temperature of from 238° C. to 248' C. It is amorphous, and of a dull 
red color. Its sp. gr. is 2.14, and it fuses at 288" C. It is not luminous 
until heated to near its firing-point (316" C). It is insoluble in bisul- 
phide of carbon. It becomes changed back again to the common yellow 
variety by the action of heat in the presence of air. 

Phosphorus has a great affinity for oxygen. It sometimes ignites spon- 
taneously, aud particularly if it be in a finely divided state, or smeared 
with a little olive oil. 

Circumstances Affecting the Oxidation of Phosphorus in Air. 

(a) Temperature. 

It ceases to be luminous at = C. ; it becomes faintly luminous from 5 3 
to 6° C, the luminosity above this being in direct ratio to the heat applied. 
Pressure of Surrounding Atmosphere. 

The luminosity is increased by a rarefied atmosphere, and checked by a 
dense one. At a pressure of four atmospheres (60 lbs.) scarcely any lu- 
minosity will be apparent even when the phosphorus is liquefied and par- 
tially sublimed. 

,• Hu Presence of certain Vapors and Gases. 

The following diminish, or altogether prevent, the luminosity of phos- 
phorus, but their exact action is doubtful: pure dry oxygen, impure hydro- 
gen, bromiue, chlorine, iodine, sulphurous acid, nitrous acid, nitric oxide, 



phosphoretted and sulphuretted hydrogen, ether, alcohol, bisulphide of 
carbon, defiant gas, coal gas, naphtha, turpentine, volatile oils, etc. 

The following have no apparent action: pure hydrogen, nitrogen, car- 
bonic acid, carbonic oxide, hydrochloric acid, ammonia, sulphur vapor, 
sulphuric acid, acetic acid, etc. 

Proportions in ivhkh certain Gases and Vapors stop the Sforv Combustion 
of Phosphorus in Air at ordinary Temperatures and Pressures. 

Name of the Gas. 

Proportions in the air 
by viluuie. 

Temperature when 

the luminosity ceases. 







2" 5" 

Too - 

.Merest truce. 

18 9 
7 2 
18 8 
18 8 
18 8 




Phosphoretted Hydrogen, .... 

Quantities of Vapor required to check the Luminosity of Phosphorus in Air 
at Elevated Temperatures. 

Gas or Vapor. 

Olefiant Gas, 
Ether, . . 

Naphtha, . 

Proportions in the air 
by volume. 

Temperature at which 
Oxidation ceases. 

93.3 Cent. 

101 2 " 

104 4 " 

76.6 " 

85.5 " 

The white fumes evolved when phosphorus uudergoes slow combustion 
in air are chiefly phosphorous anhydride with some phosphoric anhydride. 
Ozone is also produced, as may be proved by the action of the vapor on a 
solution of starch and iodide of potassium. When the combustion is rapid, 
phosphoric anhydride (P 2 5 ) is formed; and if this is allowed to collect on 
neighboring objects, it prevents their taking fire. Hence, phosphorus 
flames do not spread. 

Burns of the skin of great severity are caused by phosphorus. These 
are due to two causes: (1) the great heat produced by its combustion, and 
(2) the development of phosphoric acid, which is a powerful local irritant. 
Alkaline lotions form the appropriate treatment in burns of this character. 
The solubility of phosphorus in different liquids is represented in the fol- 
lowing table: 

* With a large amount of naphtha and turpentine, phosphorus may be actually 
distilled without tiring. 



Solubility of Phosphorus in various Liquids. 

"Water, .... 
Strong acetic acid, 
Alcohol (gp. gr 834), . 
Ether (sp. gr. 758), 
Olive oil (sp. gr. 916), . 
Turpentine (sp. gr. 996), 
Bisulphide of carbon, . 


04 per cent. 

0.4 " 


10 " 

25 " 

10 to 15 times its weight. 

The solutions, however, differ in strength very materially, according to 
the length of time that the solvent has acted. 

Table showing the Solubility of Phosphorus in various Liquids after remain- 
ing in contact with them for different times. 






Amount of Phosphorus taken up during 

1st day. 

2d day. 

3d day. 

4th day. 

5th day. 

6th day. 

Olive oil, 

1 oz. = 
1 oz. = 
1 oz. = 
1 oz. = 

400 grs. 
364 " 
440 " 
478 " 


1 3 
4 8 
















Phosphorus is neither acted upon by sulphuric acid at ordinary tem- 
peratures, nor by boiling hydrochloric acid, nor by solutions of ammonia, 
alkaline carbonates, sulphates, or phosphates, nor by solutions of sugar, 
albumen, or gelatin, nor by infusion of tea, nor by tincture of galls, milk, 
bile, etc. It is acted upon, more or less, by sulphuric acid at 93° C, by 
nitric and iodic acids, by some organic acids (as acetic), and by solutions 
of caustic soda, and potash. It combines readily with nascent hydrogen. 
It exerts a powerful reducing action on many metallic solutions, such as 
those of gold, silver, copper, and platinum, whilst it possesses, apparently, 
no action on lead, iron, zinc, antimony, arsenic, or manganese. It has no 
action on dead mucous membrane, unless freely exposed to the air, when 
it softens, discolors, and in time dissolves it. 

Phosphorus is frequently used on the Continent, but comparatively 
rarely in this country, for criminal purposes. The various forms of rat- 
paste, which contain generally about 5 per cent, of phosphorus, mixed 
with flour, sugar, oil, butter, and Prussian blue, and lucifer-match tips, 
which consist of phosphorus, chlorate of potash, sand, and some coloring- 
matter, have been the usual forms in which the poison has been taken.* 

Synyitoms, Dose, etc. 

The symptoms vary considerably as to the time of their commencement. 
Sometimes they set in rapidly, but more often a considerable interval 
occurs before any serious effects are noticed. Even a period of inac- 
tion as long as five days is recorded. As a rule, within one or two hours 
the patient complains of a peculiarly disagreeable taste, and of extreme 
warmth in the stomach and bowels, gradually developing into a violent 

* Composition of rat-paste: 8 parts of phosphorus are liquefied in 180 parts' of 
lukewarm water, and poured into a mortar ; 180 parts of rye-iueal are added, and 
when cold, mixed with 125 parts of sugar, 180 parts of butter, and some coloring 
matter. Both and Ringeisen's rat poison is composed of phosphorus and arsenic. 
It has caused death (Medical Times and Gazette, Dec. 1st, 1855, p. 560.) 


buruiug pain. Phosphorescent eructations, having a garlic odor, may be 
observed. Vomiting and purging are not unfrequeut, the vomit being 
generally dark-colored, and having the peculiar phosphorus odor. The 
pulse is weak, the temperature low, the pupils dilated, the thirst intense, 
the abdomen distended, the extremities cold, and the intellect clear. 

For a time the patient will probably rally, and be apparently fast re- 
covering, when, about the third to tiie fifth day, jaundice, with retention 
of urine, and possibly delirium, will set in. In twelve out of sixteen cases 
jaundice is recorded. The relapse is usually sudden, and the patient will, 
in all probability, die within forty-eight hours from its occurrence, either 
comatose or in convulsions. In one or two cases paralysis has occurred, 
the action of the poison on the nervous and genital system being generally 
well marked. Recovery is comparatively very rare. 

The time of death varies. One case is recorded where it occurred in 
half an hour, one in thirteen hours, one in twenty hours, and several other 
cases in times varying from two to twelve days; from the third to the 
seventh day being the most common. 

The quantity necessary to destroy life may be judged of from the follow- 
ing cases. A child died after sucking two matches, or a quantity equal to 
about the one-fiftieth of a grain; one-eighth of a grain killed a woman, 
and 1.5 grains a man, in twelve hours. On the other hand, Dr. Wormley 
records a case of recovery after a child had swallowed a teaspoonful of 
phosphorus paste, and Dr. Taylor one of recovery after a child had sucked 
three hundred matches. The authors have found 0.5 grain of phosphorus 
will kill a dog. Dr. Pereira asserts that Chabert, the celebrated " Fire 
King," could swallow sixteen grains of phosphorus without incon- 
venience (! !). 


The treatment is comparatively simple, for there is no chemical antidote 
for the poison. To get it out of the stomach therefore, as soon as possible, 
is the oue great indication. If the patient is seen soon after the poison has 
been taken, the stomach-pump may be used ; otherwise, an emetic of sul- 
phate of zinc is best. Some thick diluent, such as magnesia or chalk, 
mixed in gruel, should be freely administered, in order both to suspend the 
fragments of the poison, thus protecting them from oxidation as well as to 
neutralize their acid products. Alkaline drinks may be given freely ; 
whilst, if the poison has had time to reach the intestines, a free purge should 
be administered. But note particularly that no oil or fatty matters micst be 
given, for they dissolve phosphorus, and so aid its absorption. 

M. Perrouue strongly recommends turpentine in cases of phosphorus as 
well as in pyrogallic acid poisoning. His experiments have been repeated 
and confirmed by Kohler aud Schimpf. (" British Medical Journal," Feb- 
ruary 4th, 1871, p. 123 ; " St. Audrews Med. G. Trans.," vol. v, p. 53.) 

Animal charcoal has been also recommended, from its power of absorb- 
ing free phosphorus. (Euleuberg aud Vohl.) 

Transfusion of blood is recommended if the case becomes desperate. 
The experiments of Drs. Eulenberg aud Laudois seem to show that, even 
Id extreme cases, life may by this means be prolonged. (" British Medical 
Journal," July 27th, 1827, p. 71.) 

Professor Bellini (" Brit, and For. Medico-Chirurgical Review," 1870, 
p. .25), in a valuable paper on antidotes to phosphorus, speaks favorably of 
the nitrate of silver. Three grains of nitrate of silver are necessary for the 
neutralization of one of phosphorus. Phosphorus in the presence of nitric 
acid aud oxide of silver, produces an insoluble compound of silver aud 
phosphorus, which is unaffected by weak acids or by the acids of the stomach. 


Physiological Action. 

The physiological action of phosphorus as a poison has been a subject 
of some discussion, and may be considered here. Some hold that its poison- 
ous action is due to its conversion into phosphorous acid, the oxidation 
beiug effected at the expense of the oxygen of the blood. With this view, 
it has been recommended that all the water that is used in making the 
mucilaginous drinks in which to suspend the magnesia or chalk, or even 
the water that is given to relieve thirst, should be boiled, in order to get 
rid of the dissolved oxygen. Similarly, Perronne's explanation of the action 
of turpentine as an antidote, is its power of preventing internal combus- 
tion. On the other hand, it is held that phosphorus is a true blood-poison, 
capable of being absorbed, and remaining unaltered even after absorption. 
The fact that the urine in poisoning by phosphorus has more than ouce 
been noticed to be luminous, somewhat confirms this view. And hence the 
exactly opposite line of treatment has been suggested. Dr. Percy ("Prize 
Essay,") 1*7:2 1 advocates turpentine as an antidote, but states that the old 
oil only is antidotal, accounting for the circumstance by the fact that the 
old oil has already absorbed oxygen. He even urges, as of great service, 
inhalations of oxygen, and the gradual introduction into the stomach, by 
means of an elastic tube, of highly oxygenated water. 

Pod- Mortem Appearances. 

The appearances usually found after death are those of a corrosive irri- 
tant poison, but they are somewhat variable, the variations beiug largely 
dependent on the form in which the poison was taken. In some cases no 
special morbid appearances have been noted. 

The skin usually has a peculiar yellow icteric appearance. On opeuing 
the abdomen, black spots or patches may be observed, and, possibly, lumi- 
nosity of the stomach or other parts will be apparent. The stomach and in- 
testines will usually be found inflamed, and occasionally gangrenous, here 
and there marked with either large or small ecchymosed patches, some 
being apparently in a state of ulceration. Small vesications of the mu- 
cous membrane are recorded. Perforation of the stomach has been no- 
ticed. Black spots and patches are also commonly found both on the skin 
and on the pleura aud pericardium. The mesenteric glands are usually 
found to be very soft, and to break down with the merest touch. Blood 
is often found in the bladder, intestines, and pleural cavity. The mucous 
membranes throughout the entire body are generally discolored and soft- 
ened. The heart is usually discolored, empty, and contracted, but some- 
times will be found to contaiu a small quantity of fluid blood. The blood 
is commonly dark, and, although fluid, syrupy in consistence. In phos- 
phorus poisoning the blood-corpuscles are said to undergo complete disin- 
tegration. ( Dr. Percy.) 

It has been stated that the acute yellow atrophy of primiparous single 
women is generally due to phosphorus poisoning. 

One singularly uniform post-mortem appearance is the fatty change dis- 
coverable in the liver, aud sometimes accompanied with atrophy, as well as 
in other soft organs, such as the kidneys, the glands of the stomach, the 
heart, the muscles, and, at times, the aorta. This fatty degeneration pro- 
duced by phosphorus was first noticed by Dr. Lewin, of Berlin. His ex- 
periments on dogs were entirely confirmatory of the records of autopsies. 
However emaciated the animal, Dr. Lewin found fatty degeneration a 
constant after-death appearance of poisoning by phosphorus. No doubt 



this fat is produced by the decomposition of the albumen in the viscera. 
( " British Med. Journal," Dec. 26th, 1863, p. 690.) These facte have been 
further investigated by Voit and Bauer, who found similar fatty changes 
produced by phosphorus in dogs that had been previously starved. We 
must, however, remember that fatty degeneration is occasionally found, 
although in a much less degree, in cases of poisoning by other substances, 
such as ammonia, alcohol, etc. Lewin further noticed that phosphorus 
produced a peculiar affection of the kidneys, and that, during life, in these 
cases, the nrine was generally albuminous. The urea excreted seems to 
be increased, whilst the oxygen taken in, and the carbonic acid given off, 
is said to be lessened. 

Chronic Phosjihorus Poisoning. 

The Lucifer Disease. 

This disease was first investigated by Lorindser of Wiedeu (1845), and 
afterwards by Heyfelder (Nurenburg), Strohl (Strasbourg), Dupasquier 
(Lyons), Helft (Berlin), Roussel (Paris), Von Bibra and Geist (Nuren- 
burg), Taylor i Nottingham), Letheby, Simon, and Stanley (London). 
(See " Lancet," vol. i, 1850, p. 41.) 

The lucifer disease specially attacks weakly, scrofulous subjects engaged 
in either the dippiug, the drying, or the packing of the matches. 

In the manufacture of lucifer matches the wooden splinters are first 
coated with some material to render them easy of ignition, such as sulphur 
or paraffiu. They are then dipped on a warm iron plate coated with a 
phosphorus composition, consisting of chlorate of potash, gum, glue, phos- 
phorus, and some coloring matter. During this process, supposing even 
that the phosphorus composition does not fire (which is no uncommon 
thing), a quantity of acid fumes are continually evolved. The matches 
are then dried, and here again the evolution of the deleterious phosphorus 
oxides continues. 
' The evil effects of these vapors are rarely immediate, although occasion- 
ally bronchial and gastric discomfort will be complained of very soon after 
commencing work. In one case recorded by Pluskal, it occurred after a 
very slight exposure. But more often mouths, and sometimes even years, 
will elapse before any symptoms of illness arise. Cases where 2j years 
I Stanley), oh years (Geist), 6 years I Dr. Taylor), and even 12 years (Tay- 
lor and Simon), are recorded. The first thing complained of will probably 
be increasing weakness and fatigue, with griping pains in the abdomen, 
and diarrhoea. After a time au intermittent toothache will torment the 
patient. The teeth on examination will be found to be carious, the gums 
swollen, and daily more and more retiring from the teeth, with possibly 
pus of au offensive nature issuing from them. Possibly the glands of the 
neck will appear more or less inflamed. After a time the jaw becomes 
exposed, and will be found rough and diseased. The general system usu- 
ally surfers severely, and unless the bone exfoliates, or is removed by oper- 
ation, death is almost certain. The length of time the disease lasts varies. 
In some cases it is only a tew weeks, whilst in others it torments the pa- 
tient tor years. 

In the majority of the cases the lower jaw is the seat of the disease. 
In Dr. Lorindser's 22 cases, 9 were affected in the upper jaw, 12 iu the 
lower, and 1 iu both. In 15 cases recorded by Von Bibra and Geist, 5 
were iu the upper jaw, 9 in the lower, and 1 iu both. In the 8 cases of 


Newman's, 3 were iu the upper, 4 in the lower, and 1 in both. Of the 
54 eases recorded, therefore — 

*_'7 were in the lower jaw. 
22 were in the upper jaw. 
•5 were in both. 

Aa to the cause of the disease, both Dupasquier and Stanley were of 
opinion that it depended on the contamination of the phosphorus that was 
used with arsenic, whilst most investigators consider that the effects are 
produced by the irritating fumes of the phosphorus oxides, and possibly 
by the ozone. The action, it is generally believed, is iu the first instance 
merely local. It is a well-known fact that the disease does not occur until 
one or more of the patient's teeth have become carious. The periosteum 
thus exposed is acted upon by the saliva in which the acid fumes are dis- 
solved. And this is no doubt the reason, the saliva being brought into 
contact with the lower jaw by gravitation, why it is generally affected. 
But the action, although local, is more than local — the sallow look, the 
gastric disturbance, the nervous irritability, the eruption on the skin, the 
falling off of the hair, the frequent occurrence of tubercular deposit, the 
black condition of the blood, and the enormous increase of phosphates in 
the urine, indicate that the action is due to the actual absorption of the 
poison into the system. 

It has been noticed further that women who work in phosphorus manu- 
factories very often miscarry. ("Lancet," Oct. 16th, 1858.) 

The following precautionary measures should be recommended : 

1. Cleanliness. Before leaving the factory the clothes should be changed, 
and the hands and face washed iu a slightly alkaline liquid. 

2. Alkaline drinks should be provided, and the mouth at times rinsed 
out with a weak solution of carbonate of soda. 

3. The workshop should be well ventilated, which is best effected by the 
introduction of several large shafts. 

4. The "dipping" process should be done in a separate room, so as to 
expose as few of the workpeople as possible to the fumes. 

5. Saucers full of turpentine should be placed about the factory, so that 
the vapor may be thoroughly diffused throughout the room. The action 
of hydrocarbons has been already alluded to. 

6. The evil may be entirely remedied by the use of the red phosphorus 
instead of the yellow phosphorus in matchmaking. 

Tests for Phosphorus. 

1. Its Odor. — This can be recognized in exceedingly dilute solutions. 

2. Its Property of Fuming in the Air and Shining in the Dark. — These 
effects only become manifest when the phosphorus is examined iu the dry 
state, or in solution iu water, vinegar, or the fixed oils, the effects being 
intensified by the application of heat. It is not manifest when the phos- 
phorus is dissolved in ether, bisulphide of carbon, alcohol, turpentine, or 
the volatile oils, until the solvent has completely evaporated. 

The criminal admixture of phosphorus with food has more than once 
been discovered by its luminosity. ("Ann. d'Hygiene," 1870, 2, 203.) 

3. Its Faculty of Evolving Ozone, etc., in Damp Air. — This may be known 


(a) A solution of nitrate of silver on white paper being blackened. 

- >tarch and iodide of potassium on white paper being turned blue. 

\j) Litmus-paper being first reddened and then bleached. 

(<?) The protosalts of mauganese being discolored. 


4. The Color of the Flame and the Products of its Combustion. — It gives 
a bright yellow light when burnt, and produces a white smoke. (Phos- 
phoric anhydride.) 

5. Its Action on certain Metallic Compounds. 

(«) Solid phosphorus reduces gold, silver, copper, etc., from their 

(/5) Nitrate of silver gives a black precipitate, with a solution of phos- 
phorus ; sulphate of copper a browu precipitate ; and mercuric 
chloride a yellow precipitate. 

6. Its Conversion into Phosphoric Acid. 
To effect this proceed as follows: 

Boil the phosphorus in a retort with twelve or fourteen times its weight 
of dilute nitric acid (sp. gr. 1200). The materials that distil over must 
be poured back into the retort from time to time, until the whole of the 
phosphorus be dissolved. Evaporate the solution nearly to dryness, and 
dissolve the residual phosphoric acid in water. The solution is acid to 

A solution boiled for some time, and just rendered neutral with ammo- 
nia, gives: 

(a) With nitrate of silver a yellow precipitate (AgP0 4 ), or under some 
circumstances, a white precipitate (AgP0 3 ). 

(A yellow precipitate is also produced by nitrate of silver with neutral 
solutious of arsenious acid, but the precipitate is crystalline, and when 
heated in a reduction-tube yields a sublimate of octahedral crystals of 
arsenious acid.) 

(/3) Ammonia and Sulphate of Magnesia. 

Produce a white precipitate of ammouio-magnesic phosphate 

(H 4 N, MgP0 4 + 6H a O), 

soluble in free acids. Collect and wash the precipitate. Dry, ignite, and 
weigh (= Mg 2 P,0,). 

100 grains = 28 grains of free phosphorus. 

(A similar precipitate is produced with arsenic acid, and is soluble in 
acetic acid. It may be known from the phosphoric acid solution by nitrate 
of silver giving a reddish-brown precipitate with arsenic acid, and a yellow 
precipitate with phosphoric acid.) 

(y) Molybdate of Ammonia (Sonnenschein). 

(The test is prepared by dissolving 1 part of molybdic acid in 8 parts 
of ammonia solution, and 20 parts of nitric acid.) 

Ajellow precipitate of phospho-molybdate of ammonia is produced. 

Toxicological AnalysU. 

In conducting a toxicological examination, it must be remembered that 
free phosphorus will probably not be found if the patient has survived for 
several days, or even if the examination be long delayed after death. In 
one case where a girl died six days after taking the poison, and in another 
where after death twenty-three days had passed before the analysis was 
commenced, no signs of phosphorus were found. 

(1) Note the odor, whether it is like garlic or not. Remember that the 
smell of phosphorus may be obscured by other highly odorous bodies. 

(2) Examine as to the presence or absence of luminosity. If white 


fumes are evolved, note their action on pieces of white paper moistened 
either with nitrate of silver or with starch and iodide of potassium I p. 91). 
•".) Pour the contents of the stomach out into a very shallow vessel, 
and spread the more solid portions in a thin layer on a plate. In this 
way any particles of phosphorus, however minute, will be detected by 
their appearing luminous. Always examine the materials in a da!-/; room, 
so that the luminosity may be better seen. If you fiud pieces of phos- 
phorus, weigh and preserve them in water. 

i 4) ( Jarefully search for any fatty matters that may contain phosphorus. 

(5) Carefully examine the stomach and alimentary canal for pieces of 
Inciter matches, and for such coloring matters as Prussian blue, etc., that 
are used both in their manufacture, and in that of rat pastes. 

i (i i Several methods of detecting phosphorus in organic solutions have 
been proposed. 

I. (Method of Lipowitz.) 

This depends on the property possessed by sulphur of combining with 
free phosphorus when heated with it. 

The contents of the stomach are to be acidulated with sulphuric acid. 
Small lumps of sulphur about the size of a bean are then to be put into a 
retort with the acid contents, heat applied, aud the distillate collected. 
Boil for at least one hour. 

A. Remove and roash the piece* of sulphur. 

(1) Note their odor, whether like garlic or not. 

(2) Note whether they appear luminous in the dark. 

(3) Heat them with strong nitric acid, and evaporate the liquid to a 
small bulk: neutralize with ammonia, and estimate the phosphoric acid 
present by adding sulphate of magnesia, collecting, drying, igniting, and 
weighing the precipitate (Mg,P s 7 ). 

B. Examine the distillate similarly for phosphoric acid. 

Lipowitz states that by this method he could detect one part of phos- 
phorus in 140,000 parts of an organic liquid. We have not ourselves been 
able to obtain satisfactory results with so small a quantity as this, although 
we believe the method is reliable. 

II. (Method of Dusart and Fresenius.) 

This process depends on the power of nascent hydrogen to combine with 
phosphorus to form phosphoretted hydrogen (^PH 3 ), which in the 'dark is 
luminous, and sometimes inflammable. 

Hydrogen is to be set free by the action of dilute sulphuric acid on 
zinc, and the organic mixture containing the phosphorus cautiously added. 

Note — 

(a) The flame produced when the gas is burnt at the jet is of an 

emerald green color. 
(,5) The gas gives a black precipitate when passed into a solutiou of 

nitrate of silver. 
(r) It gives a black precipitate passed into a solution of chloride of 


III. (Method of Mitscherlich.) 

The organic liquid is to be distilled in the dark, with a little dilute sul- 
phuric acid, which neutralizes any ammonia generated during putrefaction, 
and the vapors conducted through a tube kept well cooled with running 
water, and the end of which passes into a receiver (Fig. 8). The phos- 



phorous vapor will condense iu the tube, and will be there seen to be 
luminous. The distillation must be carried to dryness. 

Note the results in this experiment as follows : 

1. The luminosity of the vapor in the tube. 

2. The garlic odor of the distillate. 

3. Examine the distillate for minute globules of phosphorus. 

4. Treat the distillate with about two drachms of nitric acid. Concen- 
trate to a small bulk, and estimate the phosphorus by adding ammonia 
and sulphate of magnesia. 

5. Lastly, drench what remains in the flask with its own bulk of dilute 
nitro-hydiochloric acid ( 1 part of nitric, 2 of hydrochloric, and 4 of water), 
and distil to dryness. The distillate, with a few drops of nitric acid, is to 

Fig. 8. 

be evaporated to a small bulk, and the phosphoric acid estimated by the 
addition of ammouia in excess, and sulphate of magnesia as already de- 
scribed, drying, igniting, and weighing the precipitate of pyrophosphate of 

We have obtained excellent results by this method with less than - 5 ' th 
of a grain of phosphorus in 5 ounces of organic liquid. If phosphores- 
cence is noticed it is decisive of the presence of free phosphorus. Unless 
phosphorescence is noted, or globules of phosphorus are found, we should 
be cautious in drawing hasty conclusions from the mere presence of a trace 
of phosphoric acid iu the distillate. 

The phosphorescence may often be detected by merely boiling the or- 
ganic matter in a glass retort. 

6. It is important to remember that the lumiuosity is destroyed by alco- 
hol, ether, and turpentine vapors (the two former soon passing off), as well 
as by iodine, calomel, corrosive sublimate, and metallic. sulphides, in the 
presence of free sulphuric acid. 

It is always advisable, if possible, iu phosphorus poisoning to examine 
the urine, as the existence of large quantities of earthy and alkaline phos- 
phates will be important. To do this, proceed as follows: 


Collect the urine, acidulate, if there is a precipitate, with hydrochloric 
acid. Add a solution of sulphate of magnesia and excess of ammonia. 
Filter immediately, dry, ignite, and weigh.* 

Remember that phosphorus is a constant constituent of animal solids 
and fluids : 

Flesh contains about .... 0.1 per cent, of phosphates. 

Blood " .... 006 " 

Liquid albumen contains about . . 0.2 " " 

Milk contains about .... 25 " " 

Cheese " lt ' . . . .0 06 " " 

Peas " " . . . . 3 » " 

Potatoes " " .... 00(3 » " 

Bread " *'.... 0.1 " " 

Bones » from .... 20. to 60, « tl 

The dry residue of urine contains from 7. to 10 " " 

Lastly, note the most conclusive results in the search for phosphorus are 
to be found in the odor, the luminosity, the products of the combustion, 
and the products of the distillation. 

Cases of Poisoning by Phosphorus. 

CASE 1.— "Lancet," September 14th, 1844, p. 754 Mr. Reedal). Male: a 1 !. 10. A quantity of phos- 
phorus given by a quack, and supposed to be the cause of death. None had been taken for ten 
days before death. 

Symptom*. — Convulsions, stupor, insensibility. 

R-sult.— Death. 

P<jst-miT(em. — Brain congested in parts; lungs congested; lining membrane of the heart red; mucous 
membrane of stomach softened, and much inflamed. 

CASE 2.— "Lancet," June 12th, 1869, p. S3G (Mr. Kay). Female: let. 32. 5j. of James's phosphor 

Symptoms— Pain, vomiting, perfect consciousness: pulse 90; death. 

Result. — Death in two days. 

Post-mortem. — (Esophagus, stomach, and intestines mahogany color; lungs congested; both sides of 
heart full of blood. 

CASE 3.—" Lancet," August 5th, 1871, p. 1S9 fDr. Anderson). Female : aet. 2. Sucked 20 matches. 

Symptom* — In forty-eight hours became drowsy, which continued f'>r twenty hours Turpentine 
was administered ; vomiting, pain, and thirst came on. On the fifth day the child became uncon- 
scious, with vomiting and convulsions. Died on the seventh day. (The mother, after she discovered 
the accident, gave the child a dose of castor oil.) 

Result. — Death on seventh day. 

Post-mo?-tem. — Body yellow; heart, lungs, kidney, spleen, normal; the liver large, and distinct 
traces of fatty degeneration ; alliaceous odor noticed on opening the stomach, which was very con- 
gested ; ilfum als<o congested. 

CASE 4,— "Virehow Jahresber.," ISilS, p. 311. Sucking matches. 

Symptoms. — Stools of a green color ; peculiar odor in breath, perspiration, and urine. 

Result. — Death in eleven days. 

Post-mortem. — Mucous membrane of oesophagus, anterior part of pharynx and epiglottis destroyed ; 
that of stomach and duodenum intact; the white blood-corpuscles increased in quantity, and the 
red diminished ; fatty changes in liver aud spleen. 

CASE 5. — " Edinburgh Monthly Journal," October, 1S60. Female: a?t. 26. Lucifer matches taken 
in coffee 

Symptoms. — An emetic was given in one hour; no pain, or purging; on the fourth day febrile 
Bymptoms set in, with jaundice and bloody vomiting; vomited matters appeared luminous. 

Result. — Dfatb in seven days. 

Post-mortem. — No inflammation of stomach, gullet, or small intestines ; one red patch was found 
in the esseum, and one in the colon ; brain congested; bloody effusions in the chest and abdomen. 

CASE 6. — Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol; i, p. 243 (Mr. Parsons). Female. A quantity of 
phosphorus paste. 

Symptoms. — Thirst, and phosphorus odor of breath, but no well-marked symptoms until the fifth 
day, when purging and sickness came on. 

Result — Death in six days. 

Post-mortem.— Body putrefied rapidly ; soon became livid, the finger-nails appearing very blue. 

* A curious ease is recorded in the Lancet, 1815, vol ii, p. 503, by Dr. Collier, 
of a man who was poisoned by drinking bis own urine for nine days, which he was 
advi&ed to do by an old woman. 


CASE 7.— "Lancet," June 13th, 1857, p. 600 (Dr. Bingley). Male: tet. 50. A quantity of phosphorus 

Symptoms. — Found dead in the morning, after having been seen well at noon the day before. 

Xauft.— Death. 

Post-mortem.— Great muscular rigidity; brain congested; heart nearly empty and flaccid; por- 
tions of mucous membrane destroyed in gullet, stomach, and small intestines. On opeuing the 
stomach a white vapor escaped, having a phosphorus odor. 

CASE 8.— "Lancet," April 13th, 1807, p. 459 (Dr. Habershon). Female. Rat poison mixed with 
water ( = to about three grains of phosphorus). 

Symptom*. — Breath phosphorescent; vomiting and purging, which ceased in two hours; jaundice 
on fifth day, with severe pain in loins; abdomen distended; liver enlarged; urine albuminous; 
temperature low (89 8°) ; died on the fifth day. 

Result. — Death on fifth day. 

Post-mortem. — Fatty degeneration of liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart, gastric follicles, and spleen; 
degeneration of voluntary muscular fibres. 

CASE 9.— "British M -dical Journal," November 30th, 1867, p. 500 (Dr. Reith). Female: set. 21. 

Phosphorus paste ; two doses taken at an interval of forty-eight hours. 

Symptoms- — In eight hours after the last dose severe vomiting and purging came on ; continued to 
get better for four days, and at the end of the fourth day died suddenly. 

Result.— Death on fourth day. 

Post-mortem. — Blood very fluid ; hemorrhagic spots on the surface of the heart; muscular tissue 
pale and loaded with fat-cells; liver seemed like " an aggregation of oil drops." 

< JASE 10 — " British Medical Journal," October 23d, 1869, p. 454 (Mr. Waterhouse). Female : set. 20. 
Id. bottle of James's phosphor paste. (Does it contain strychnia ?j 

Symptoms, — Became unconscious in one hour; opisthotonos and tetanic spasms soon set in; no 
vomiting; stomach-pump used ; for some days great thirst; urine scauty, and no appetite. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 11.—" Medical Times and Gazette," November 19th, 1S59, p. 512. ^t. three months. Several 
matches sucked. 

Symptoms. — Colic, vomiting, diarrhoea, garlic smell of breath. 

Result. — Death in twenty hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach very rotten ; bladder colorless and empty. 

CASE 12.— " Medical Times and Gazette," November 19th, 1859, p. 512. Male: at. 46. Ate the paste 
of two boxes of matches. 

Symptoms. — Great pain and vomiting, but rallied the next day so as to return to work ; had a re- 
lapse on second day, and died the day following. 

Result. — Death on third day. 

CASE 13.—" Medical Times and Gazette," May 3d, 1862, p. 463 (Professor Frerichs). Female. Ate 
the tops of one thousand lucifer matches. 

Symptoms. — Jaundice; enlargement of liver; urine albuminous; not much pain, and no nervous 

Result. — Death. 

Post-mortem. — Blood thin, not coagulated, and the color of cherry juice ; liver enlarged and very 

CASE 14.—" Medical Times and Gazette," October 10th, 1863, p. 378 (Mr. John Dawson). Female : 
a*t 27. A jar full of phosphor rat -paste. 

Symptoms, — Drowsiness ; breath smelt of phosphorus; no pain ; great thirst ; vomiting ; on the third 
day the body was bluish, and the odor of phosphorus from the breath distinct; death sixty-three 
hours after admission. 

Result. — Death on fourth day. 

Post-mortem. — Lungs gorged with dark blood ; heart and liver were both pale and rotten ; stomach 
pale externally ; the mucous membrane was dusky red at the cardiac end and raised in patches; 
no perforation ; intestines, except lower part of ileum, pale ; blood thick, and dirty red in color. 

CASE 15 —"Medical Times and Gazette," October 8th, 1864, p. 386 (Dr. Woodman). Females: 19 
and 26. Ate a penny box of phosphorus paste between them. 

Symptoms. — Seen in one hour; breath was luminous, and smelt strongly of phosphorus ; this lasted 
in one case for three days; both bad burning pain in the mouth and stomach ; the tongue in both 
was very red, and bare of epithelium; both had urticaria; botli had ha?matemesis, and both had a 
great desire to sleep. • 

Result. — Recovery in ten days. 

CASF. 16.— Beck's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. ii, p. 511. Male. 1.5 grains. 
Result. — Death on the twelfth day. 

CASE 17.— "Wharton and Stille's Jurisprudence," p. 505. Mt. 2*£. Sucked eight matches. 
Result.— Death. 

CASE IS.— "Wharton and Stille's Medical Jurisprudence," p. 50. Mt. 2 months. Sucked two 
Result.— Death. 


i IASE 19.— "Chemical News," April, 1*60, p. 207. Female. Thirty or forty lucifers taken in milk. 

Result.— Vaaxh in forty-eight hoars. 

CASE 20. — '• United States Dispensatory," 1865, p. 644 Child. Teaspoonful of phosphorus paste. 
Magnesia administered. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 21. — "Guy*a SospiUl Reports," 1868, p. 242 (Dr. Taylor). Female: a;t.l3. Phosphorus paste. 

f%W|ifl)1l Thtl first v.utii! was luminous; great pain. 

Result.— Death on the sixth day. 

Post-mortem. — Ecchyuiosed patches on the skin of the chest and abdomen ; stomach not inflamed, 
but contained a thick bloody fluid; intestines normal; liver fatty. 

CASE 22. — "Galtier's Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 87. Female: vet. 52. One graiu in divided doses 
during four days. 

Syndrom.*. — Great pain. 

Result.— Death in three days. 

Post-mortem. — Gullet, stomach, and small intestines inflamed. 

CASE 23. —'British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review," October, 1S59 (Dr. Lewinsky). 
Female; at. 22, Phosphorus composition scraped off matches. 

Symptoms. — Pain occurred very soon , vomiting of luminous matter; jaundice on third day; con- 
vulsions and coma. 

Result.— Death on sixth day. 

T\ul mot ft in — Stomach and intestines filled with a blackish-brown fluid; bladder contracted and 
empty ; heart contracted. 

CASE 24. — Casper's " Forensic Medicine," vol, ii, p. 100. Female; set. 20. Three grains of phos- 

Symptoms.— Poison taken at six in the evening; had a restless night, and vomited once. 

Result. — Death in twelve hours. 

Post-mortem. — Luminous vapors issued from anus and vagina forty-eight hours after death ; intes- 
tines pale; stomach not inflamed ; liver, spleen, kidneys, and bladder cong< sted ; heart empty. 

CASE 25.— "Med. Chi. Zeituug," 1826, vol. iv, p. 1S3 (Dr. Flachsland). Male: at. 24. Quantity (?); 
taken on bread with butter. 

Symptoms. — Pain ; intense vomiting; fragments of phosphorus passed by bowels. 

Result. — Death in forty hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and bowels externally inflamed ; mucous membrane of stomach and in- 
testines gangrenous; large intestines very contracted; spleen and kidneys inflamed. 

CASE 26.— " Revue Medicale," 1829, vol. iii, p. 429. Male. One grain on July 2d, two grains on 
July 21st, three grains on July 22d. 

Symptoms. — On the 22d vomiting, with delirium; convulsions, and paralysis afterwards set in; 
death took place on the 29th. 

Result. — Death on seventh day. 

CASE 27.— "Medical Times and Gazette," August 30th, 1873, p. 235. Male. Sucked forty-two 
matches = about eight grains. 

Symptoms. — Severe symptoms in two hours. 

Result. — Death in thirteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach very pale, hut except one red patch, there were no special post-mortem ap- 

Other Cases of Phosphorus Poisoning % See 

"British Medical Journal," January 1st, 1S70, p. 18. (Lucifer matches.) 
" British Medical Journal," March 5th, 1870, p, -4 i. (Lucifer matches.) 
"Medical Times and Gazette," July 9th, 1864, p. 50. (Death from manufacture of matches; Dr. 

"Medical Times and Gazette," December 1st, 1855, p. 560. (Death from phosphorus rat-poison.) 
"Medical Times and Gazette," December 22d, 1860, p. 609. (From sucking lucifers.) 
"Medical Times and Gazette," October 19th, 1 867 1 p. 447. (F. 4\4; Dr. Hillier.) 
"Medical Times," October 21st, 1843, p. 33. (Various cases.) 

" Medical Times," December 19lh, 1847, p. 224. (Salivation and diseased jaw from fumes.) 
"British Medical Journal," April 30th, 1S64, p 4S7. '.Death from phosphorus.) 
Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 242. (Reg. v. Fisher.) 
Horn's " Vierteljahrsschrift," 1866, vol. i, p. 271. (Dr. Kessler.) 
Casper's" Wochenschri it," 1846, p. 117. 'Six grains in divided doses. Death.) 
" Ann. d'Hygiene," 1857, vol. i. p. 422. (Deaths from 4.6 grains, 2.3 grains, and J^fch pram.) 
"Me.iico-Chirurgical Transactions," 1867, vol. 1. (Case quoted by Dr. Habershon. Death in thirty 

" Medical Press," November 15th, 1S65, p. 434. 




Chlorine — Hypoehlorous acid — Bromine — Symptoms — Iodine — Symptoms — Treat- 
ment — Post-mortem appearances — Toxieological analysis — Iodide of potas- 
sium — Tests — Cases of poisoning — Fluorine — Manufacture of superphosphate. 

CHLORINE (CI =35.5). 

The chief source of chlorine is common salt (NaCl). Chlorine is both 
an active deodorizer and a powerful bleaching agent, and on account of 
these properties is largely used both in the sick-room and the manufac- 
tory. Even when largely diluted with air, chlorine produces, if inhaled, 
considerable inflammatory action in the lungs, air-passages, and eyes. It 
is remarkable, however, how large a quantity can be breathed with impu- 
nity by those accustomed to it. We are told that the men constantly at 
work in a chlorine atmosphere never get fat, or if fat when they commence 
work that they soon get thin, but that it does not shorten their days. If 
the gas is injected into the jugular veins it destroys life rapidly ( Nysten 
and Orfila ), the blood after death being fluid and dark-colored. One part 
in two hundred of air will kill a sparrow in five minutes (Tidy). It has 
been noticed that the lungs of animals killed by chlorine are yellow 
(Broughton). When injected into the stomach in a fluid state death is 
rapid and the stomach is found after death intensely inflamed. 

After poisoning by chlorine, the patient must be at once brought into 
the fresh air and made to breathe ammonia, or very dilute sulphuretted 
hydrogen, or ether vapor. The inhalation of steam is also beneficial. 

The color, odor, and bleaching properties of the gas constitute its tests. 

Cases of Poisoning with Chlorine. 

CASE1.— "Christison," p. 803, from "Wibmer." Male: adult. Dilute chlorine. 

Symptoms. — Immediate irritation in the epiglottis, windpipe, and bronchial branches; cough; 
tightness and pressure in chest; inability to swallow; difficulty in breathing; severe sneezing; pro- 
trusion of eyes; swelling of face ; great relief was afforded by breathing a little sulphuretted hydro- 
gen, and in one hour and a hall' he was well. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 2.—" Lancet," April 27th, 1839, p. 194. Male; adult. Dilute chlorine. 

Symptoms. — Severe effects, very much as above. 

Result. — Recovery. 

Hypoehlorous Acid (HC10). 
The Hypochlorites or Bleaching Poivders. 

Chloride of Lime (Bleaching powder) = Chloride and Hypochlorite of 
Calcium. (CaCl 2 , CaCl 2 2 ). 

Hypochlorite of Sodium (NaCIO), Chlorinated Soda. 

The hypochlorites are largely used by the French washerwomen on 
account of their bleaching properties (l'eau de javelle). They are very 
soluble in water, and give off' a strong chlorine odor, which is much more 
marked if an acid be added. 


It is important to note that a hypochlorite may prove poisonous, and 
yet noue be found after death in the contents of the stomach, an inert 
chloride having been produced. The symptoms of poisoning by the 
hypochlorites seem to be irritation of the alimentary canal, vomiting, and 
general wasting of the body. 

In cases where there is a suspicion of their administration, search must 
be speciallv made for stains on linen and clothes. The stains on black 
materials are usually of a reddish-brown color. 

In the manufacture of chloride of lime (bleaching powder) a little 
chlorine will at times escape from the works, and be a cause of nuisance 
and litigation. It is either due to accident or carelessuess. The liquid 
muriatic acid which flows from the condensing towers at the alkali works 
is that which is generally used for produeiug the chlorine. The acid 
gravity 1125 to 1140; or 25 to 28, Twaddell) is run into a still contain- 
ing oxide of manganese and subjected to heat. The chlorine evolved by 
this means is passed over slightly damp, well-slaked lime, placed in layers 
three to six inches deep. The oxide of manganese is usually recovered 
from the material in the retort (thus preventing it becoming au annoy- 
ance), by treating it, first, with carbonate of lime, which does uot decom- 
pose the chloride of manganese, but merely serves to neutralize any free 
acid. The clear supernatant solution of chloride of manganese is then 
drawn otf into an "oxidator." where it is treated with milk of lime, which 
decomposes the chloride of manganese, and throws down a precipitate of 
the oxide. This protoxide is uow converted into peroxide by blowing air 
into the mixture. This is allowed to settle and is then collected. 

Chlorine is also prepared from the gaseous hydrochloric acid from salt 
cake furnaces, by acting upon it at a low red heat with atmospheric air, 
by which means the hydrogen is oxidized and the chlorine set free. The 
gas, being first cooled and dried by passing it through a sulphuric acid 
scrubber, is then conveyed to the lime chambers. This method of gen- 
erating chlorine demands care and attention, as the high temperature of 
the decomposing apparatus is very likely to lead to fissures and cracks in 
the apparatus, and in this way to the escape of irritating gases. 

Case of Poisoning by Hypochlorite of Sixia (Chlorinated Soila). 

CASE 1.— Reese, "Manual of Toxicology," p. 18S. from "Tardieu." JEt. 6 months. Believed to 
have been administered on several ocea>ions during a period of two months. 

Symptoms. — Peculiar odor exhaled by breath; irritation of alimentary canal: vomiting; failing 

Besull.— Death. 

Pott-morfem . — No odor in the stomach of chlorine. The last dose bad clearly been given six days 
before death ; abnormal amounts of chlorides were found in urine and kidneys. 

BROMINE (Br. = 80). 
(Boils at 63 G C. Sp. gr. 2.966.) 

Bromine is largely used in photography. It is a dark-red volatile 
liquid, having a very unpleasant odor aud taste. It is intensely corrosive 
and very destructive to animal tissues. The vapor, which is given oft' at 
common temperatures, is very irritating to the eyes and lungs aud induces 
a kind of catarrh. 

Given internally it is rapidly converted into hydrobroniie acid (HBr). 

In a free state its color, odor, and peculiar fumes are its distinctive testa. 
It is not, however, likely to be found in this form in a medico-legal in- 
quiry. In such an investigation proceed as follows: Filter the contents 
of the stomach aud add a little chlorine-water to, or pass a few bubbles of 


chlorine (avoiding an excess) through the filtrate. Shake the whole up 
with ether and allow the mixture to stand for the ether to separate, which, 
if bromine be present, will have a yellow or reddish color. Decant, and 
after the addition of a few drops of potash solution, evaporate off and 
preserve the ether. Dissolve the bromide which remains in the flask in 
water, and again set the bromine free by the addition of a little chlorine 
water. If now a few drops of starch-water be added, the yellow bromide 
of starch will be at once formed. 

Injected into the jugular vein, Barthez, Dieffenbach, and Butske noticed 
that animals either die almost directly or else recover. Thus adminis- 
tered, 12 grains killed a dog, and 5 grains very nearly killed a horse, 
whilst cases are recorded of a dog recovering from 17 drops and a cat 
from 12 drops, the leading symptoms when recovery occurred being sneez- 
ing, discharge from the nostrils, rigors, and debility. 

By introducing it into the stomach the following were the results: 

Barthez found 40 to 60 drops killed dogs in four or five days, the symp- 
toms observed being dilated pupils, sneezing and vomiting, the vomit a 
few minutes after the administration of the poison having no appreciable 
odor of bromine. Butske found 5 grains killed a dog in twenty-tour hours 
with convulsions. The stomach and duodenum were found much con- 
gested after death. 

So far as we know, there is no case of poisoning symptoms being in- 
duced by the use of Bromide of Potassium. 

Case of Poisoning with Bromine. 

CASE 1. — "New York Journal of Medicine," November, 1850 (Dr. Sayre). Male: Get. 24. Sj of bro- 
mine taken on an empty stomach. 

Symptoms. — Immediate dilbculty of respiration; intense pain in stomach; great anxiety, with 
trembling of bands ; pulse rapid 

Hesult. — Death in seven hours. 

Poxt-mortrm. — Stomach externally injected ; internally it was covered with a thick black layer, the 
mucous membrane being intensely inflamed; viscera near stomach were of a deep yellow color; 
peritoneal coals of stomach and duodenum injected; stomach contained four ounces of a thick 
reddish fluid, haviug a bromine smell. 

IODINE (I = 127). 

Iodine is obtained from the ashes of sea plants. It is scaly in form, 
deep violet in color, and peculiar in odor. It is sparingly soluble in water, 
more soluble in certain saline solutions, such as iodide of potassium, and 
very soluble in spirit. If a very strong solution be applied to the skin it 
acts as a corrosive, and stains the skin yellow, but the color can be removed 
by treating it with an alkali. 

The vapor of iodine is very irritating. It fuses at 107.2° C. (225° F.), 
and boils at 175° C. (347° F.) 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

The symptoms of acute poisoning by iodine are those of an irritant and 
corrosive poison. There is immediate pain and heat in the throat and 
adomen, with vomiting and purging. The vomit will probably be of a 
yellow or brown color, possibly bloody, but blue or black if any starchy 
food was present in the stomach when the poison was taken. The stools 
often contain blood. Giddiness and fainting, with headache and convul- 
sive movements are not uncommon. 

Applied externally or given internally in small doses, certain chronic 
or secondary effects are induced (iodism). There is a general irritability 
of the alimentary canal and consequent indigestion, frequent vomiting, 


purging, and pain in the stomach, a loaded tongue, an enlarged liver, and 
considerable palpitation and cramps. An increase of all the secretions 
is usual, whilst salivation, a general wasting of the body, and specially in 
the female absorption of the breasts, and in the male of the testicles, are 
said to be ordinary symptoms. Dr. Rivers believes barrenness to be in- 
duced by the use of iodine. 

As regards the poisonous dose the records of cases are perplexing. Re- 
covery is recorded after ten grains taken in one dose (Magendie), four 
grains taken daily for fifteen months (Christison), thirty grains taken daily 
(Gully and Delissez), twelve grains taken for eighty days (Kennedy), and 
three drachms of the tincture taken in one dose by an infant (Wright). 
In many of the cases no symptoms worth recording occurred. On the other 
hand bad effects are said to have resulted from half a grain taken three 
times daily for a week, and from even a less quantity. Death has resulted 
from twenty grains of iodine, whilst recovery is recorded after a drachm 
and a half, the symptoms produced, however, being severe. When death 
occurs, it usually happens within thirty hours after the poison has been 

It may be well to note here that iodiue may be easily detected in the 
blood, urine, saliva, milk and sweat, even after a mere medicinal dose. 
After forty minutes it will be found in the urine, and will probably not 
disappear for five days. The iodine is present, however, not in the free 
state, but as hydriodic acid, into which it is rapidly converted. 


The treatment will consist in the free administration of farinaceous foods 
after vomiting has been produced by emetics. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

The post-mortem appearances that have been noted are those of a cor- 
rosive irritant poison. Orfila noticed in dogs little yellow ulcers in the 
stomach, whilst the enlargement and congested state of the liver seems 
constant. The lungs are generally found natural. The brain is usually 
more or less congested. 

Toxieologieal Analysis. 

In conducting a toxieologieal investigation first of all filter the contents 
of the stomach, and if the filtrate be clear and colorless, or nearly so, test 
at ouce for iodine by adding a little starch solution, when, if iodine be 
present, a blue color will be produced, disappearing temporarily on the 
application of heat, and permanently by the action of sulphuretted hydro- 
gen. If, however, the filtrate be too dark-colored to allow of its being at 
once treated with starch, shake it up with its own bulk of ether, and after 
allowing the ether to separate, decant the ethereal solution, and test this 
for iodine. If this also fails, the process suggested for iodide of potassium 
(page 102) must be adopted. 

Iodide of Potassium (KI = 166). 

(Hydriodate of Potash.) 

This salt is much used in medicine and in the laboratory. 
It is prepared 

(1) By adding iodine to a solution of potash when iodide of potassium 
(KI) and the iodate of potassium (KI0 3 ) are formed 

6KHO + 31, = KI0 3 + 3H 2 + 5KI. 


This is then heated, and in this manner the oxygen from the KI0 3 is 
driven off'. 

(2) By dissolving carbonate of potash in hydriodic acid. 

K,C0 3 + 2HI = CO, + H 2 + 2KI. 

(The KI often contains notable quantities of K.,C0 3 .) 
It is a white crystalline solid (cubes) somewhat deliquescent, and very 
soluble in water and alcohol. 

Symptoms. Treatment. 

Owing to peculiar idiosyncrasies, very small doses of the salt (such as 
twelve and even five grains) have at times produced alarming results. By 
some persons, on the other hand, even drachm doses will be taken with im- 
punity. Salivation has been kuown to occur from its exhibition on nu- 
merous occasions. The general symptoms produced by it are those of 
severe catarrh. Sometimes, however, violent abdominal pains with purg- 
ing and vomiting, in addition to the ordinary symptoms, such as running 
at the nose and eyes, thirst, headache, dyspnoea, etc., have been noticed. 
It has been stated by some French physicians that it is capable of acting 
as an abortive (?). In some cases an eruption like that of small-pox, or 
a kind of bullous eruption like Hydroa, is the result of medicinal doses. 

The treatment must consist in the use of the stomach-pump, emetics, 
diluents, and such other remedies as the case suggests. 


1. With mercuric chloride (HgCl 2 ) a red precipitate of mercuric iodide 
(Hgl 2 ) is formed, which is soluble both in excess of iodide of potassium 
and of the test solution. 

2. With acetate of lead, a yellow precipitate is produced of iodide of 
lead (Pbl 2 ). 

3. Mixed with a little starch-wafer, and a very little chlorine-water, the 
blue iodide of starch is formed. By warming the color goes, whilst if too 
much chlorine be present, chloride of iodine is formed, and this is color- 

4. Iodide of potassium is decomposed by nitric acid, chlorine, etc., iodine 
being liberated. 

5. Nitrate of silver gives a yellowish-white precipitate of iodide of silver 
(Aglj insoluble in nitric acid, and sparingly soluble in ammonia. 

Toxicological Analysis. 

In organic mixtures Dr. Guy advises that sulphuretted hydrogen be 
passed tli rough the mixture of the solids and liquids to convert, any free 
iodine into hydriodic acid. Gently heat the mixture to drive off any ex- 
cess of the gas, and afterwards add an excess of potash, filter, and evapo- 
rate to dryness. Char the residue in a covered crucible, powder, treat with 
water, and filter. Evaporate this down to a small bulk, and then add 
chlorine to set the iodine free, and a little starch, when the characteristic 
blue color will appear. 

Cases of Poisoning by Iodine. 

CASE 1.— "Medical Times and Gazette," December 28th, 1861, p. 8S9 (Dr. Bambridge). Female: 
set. 50. 3j of tincture uf iodine by mistake for black draugbt (=. 5ss. of iodine), taken on empty 

Symptoms. — Instant burning pain ; emetics were given directly ; great debility ; loss of taste. 

Result — Recovery. 


CASE 2.—" Medical Times aod Gazette," November 5th, 1864, p. 488 (Dr. Gillespie). Male; est. 17. 
Iodine applied to enlarged glands, the patient suffering at the time from remittent fever. 

Symptom.— -In five hours vomiting and purging of a yellow fluid came ou ; pain, aud suppression of 
urine; mind clear tn the hist. 

Result. — Death in thirty hours. 

Post-morlrm. — Brain somewhat congested ; liver large and congested ; gall-bladder full of dark bile ; 
stomach and intestines bad ecchymoaed spots upon them; urine contained iodine. 

* !ASE ■'.— " Provincial Journal," June 30th, 1^47, p 856. Female. ~>j Of iodine in .\j of spirit. 

■ //ijt. — Almost immediate pain in throat and stouiueli ; retching and vomiting ; eyes suffused 
and prominent. 

Result.— Death in twenty-four hours. 

CASE 4.—" Medical Times and Gazette," December 28th, 1861, p. 6G9. 5ss. 

Result. — Reeo v e r y . 

CASE 5.—" Essay ou the Effects of Iodine" (Dr. Galrdner), 1824, p. 20. Mi. 4. 20 grains taken 
as tincture. 

Result — Death in a few hours. 

CASE 6.— Horn's "Archiv," 1829, vol. i, p. 340 (Dr. Jahn). Overdose? 

Symptoms. — Violent pain in abdomen; vomiting; profuse bloody diarrhoea; coldness of skin; 
rigors; quivering of sight* and rapid pulse. 

Result.— (?) 

CASK 7. — "Christison," page 194. 5jss. in solution of iodide of potassium. 

Symptoms. — Immediate nausea, and great pain in stomach; the vomit was yellow; restlessness; 
headache; giddiness. Recovery in five days. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 8.— "Christison," page 194. Sijss. 

Symptoms.— Immediate burning pain in throat and stomach; vomiting had to be induced by 
draughts of warm water ; and in uine hours the patient recovered. 

Result. — Recovery. 

Cases of Poisoning by Iodide of Potassium. 

CASE l.— "Medical Gazette," September 3d, 1841. Male: adult, Gr. iii, three times daily. Four 
doses taken. 
Symptom*.— Had a shivering fit; thirst; vomiting; purging, with great prostration. 
Remit. — Reeo very, 

CASE 2.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," p. 240 (Mr. Erichsen). Gr. v. 
Symptoms — Alarming symptoms of difficulty of breathing and of catarrh. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 8.—" Medical Gazette," xxvii, p. 588. (Dr. Laurie). Adult. Gr. vijss. 
Symptoms.— Dryness of throat ; difficulty of breathing. 

FLUORINE (PI = 19). 

In one matter only are fluorine compounds likely to become a matter 
of importance to the medical jurist. 

The manufacture of "superphosphate" is, unless properly conducted, 
likely to be a cause of considerable annoyance. The materials used are 
ground coprolites, crushed bones, spent animal charcoal from sugar re- 
fineries, aud animal refuse of all kinds. These are treated in a proper 
apparatus with dilute sulphuric acid. The action of the acid on the flu- 
orides and silicates of the coprolites is to evolve the excessively irritating 
aud acrid letrnjiuoride of silicon along with other vapors. The mixer 
should be air-tight, aud should be so arranged that it need uot be opened 
externally until the materials in the mixer have passed into the super- 
phosphate room. The gases should, first of all, be conveyed from the 
mixer into a chamber where they meet with a copious spray of water. 
This decomposes the tetrafliioride of silicon, hydrate of silica being formed, 
which is deposited in a pulpy state, and an acid — hydrofluosilieic acid — 
set free, which is dissolved by the water. The gases should be now passed 
through a coke scrubber kept moistened with water, then through a lime 
purifier, aud lastly, through the furnace into the furnace shaft. 





Potassium — Sodium — Ammonium — Lithium — Rubidium — Caesium. 

We need only consider the first three of these in any detail. 
The whole group are lighter than water, univalent, and their salts freely 
soluble in water. 


(K = At. wt. 39: Sp. gr. 0.865: melts at 62.5° C.) 

The metal is prepared by distilling potassie carbonate with charcoal, 
and condensing the metal in a receiver, coutaining naphtha. 

K,C0 3 + 2C = K 2 + 3CO. 

Potash ( K,0 = 94). 
This is obtained by heating caustic potash with metallic potassium. 
KHO-(-K = K,0 + H. 

Potassium Hydrate ( KHO) = 56. 

(Caustic Potash ; Potassa Fusa.) 

This is prepared by boiling together slaked lime and commercial 
"pearlash," which is an impure carbonate of potash, obtained from wood 

K 2 C0 3 + CaO, H,0 = 2'.HKO) + CaC0 3 . 

Caustic potash is a white, hard, solid substance, and is sold either iu 
lumps or iu sticks. It is often of a brownish color, from the presence of 
foreign matters. It deliquesces readily, and has a great affinity for car- 
bonic acid. 

The Proportion of Anhydrous Potash (K._,0) in Aqueous Solutions of 
various Gravities (Daltox). 

Specific Gravity. 

Per Cent. 

Specific Gravity. 

Per Cent. 

1 78 

56 8 

1 36 


] 68 

51 2 

1 33 


1 60 



23 4 


42 9 




39 6 








34 4 

1 11 






Soft soap is formed by the action of a solution of caustic potash on fat. 
The alkaline solution is called "a lye," which was formerly nothing more 
than a solution of wood ashes. 


Potash dissolves freely iu water (100 parts in 50), great heat being 
thereby evolved. The saturated solution has a sp. gr. of about 2.0, and 
contains 70 per cent, of anhydrous alkali. 

The solubility of the caustic alkali in alcohol is equally as great as its 
solubility in water. The salts of potash are also very soluble in water, 
but are not usually soluble iu alcohol. 

Potash and soda are termed fixed alkalies; i. e., they are not dissipated 
by heat, like ainraouia. Porcelain and glass are attacked by both the 
fixed alkalies. A solution of potash, kept for a length of time in a glass 
bottle, will certainly be found to contain silica. Platinum is slightly 
acted upon by it, but not silver. When brought into contact with animal 
tissues, a rapid destruction of the tissue results, soluble compounds being 
funned. Indeed, it will dissolve the tissue of the stomach more readily 
than acids. It acts energetically on vegetable matters, such as cork. 

The impurities of ordinary caustic potash are carbonic acid, sulphuric 
acid, phosphoric acid, chlorine, silica, and alumina. They are chiefly 
derived from impure materials, used in the manufacture. Most of them 
are left behind, when the alkali is purified by dissolving it in alcohol. 

Symjrfoms; Dose, etc. 

The symptoms produced by potash and soda are almost identical. There 
is au immediate nauseous soapy taste due to the rapid disorganization of 
the mucous membranes. If the poison be swallowed, there will be imme- 
diate and intense pain and heat from mouth to stomach. The lips and 
tongue swell rapidly, and become brown. Violent colicky pains, with 
intense tenderness iu the stomach follow, and are generallv accompanied 
by the vomiting of mucus mixed with blood, epithelium flakes, and shreds- 
of mucous membrane. There is often severe purging of bloody mucus. 
Slight convulsions have been recorded. The pulse becomes very small 
and rapid, and the skin cold and clammy. The death (as with mineral- 
acids) may be either very rapid from collapse ; "or, as is most often the 
case, it may result from starvation due to secondary causes, such as stric- 
ture of the (esophagus, or stricture of one or both openings of the stomach,, 
the taking food under such circumstances gradually becoming more and 
more difficult, and at last impossible. 

As regards dose, forty grains of caustic potash has caused death. This- 
is the smallest dose on record. Half an ounce may be regarded as the 
poisonous dose under ordinary circumstances. 

Death may be rapid ; but the patient more often survives the acute 
symptoms, and dies, after a considerable time, from starvation. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

Wherever the poison has gone, there great local action, with broken up 
and disorganized membranes will be apparent. This will specially be the 
case, therefore, in the mouth, throat, gullet, stomach, etc. The larynx is 
very likely to be more or less inflamed. The stomach may, if a large dose 
has been swallowed, appear completely black from the extravasation of 
disorganized blood on its coats. Contraction of the oesophagus and of the 
stomach, with constriction of the orifices, are usually found in cases where 
death has occurred after an interval. 


The stomach-pump must not, under any circumstances, be used. Dilute 
vinegar or lemon-juice should be at once administered. Oranges, olive 


oil (converting thereby the alkali into a soap), and milk may be given 
freely. Opium, it' there is much pain ; and stimulants, if there is great 
depression, are indicated. 

Tests: General Notes respecting Tests for the Alkalies. 

Previous to dealing with the tests for the alkalies in detail, it will be 
useful to note, first of all, a few reactions that are common to all the alka- 
lies, and some that are peculiar to each : 

(a) They all have (as well as their carbonates) a strong alkaline reac- 

(b) They all are (unlike other metallic oxides) soluble in water. 
(e) They are — 

(1) Not precipitated by sulphuretted hydrogen, like tin, gold, platinum, 

arsenic, antimony, bismuth, mercury, lead, silver, copper, or 

(2) They are not precipitated by sulphide of ammonium, like nickel, 

cobalt, manganese, iron, chromium, aluminium, or zinc. 

(3) They are not precipitated by carbonate of ammonium, like barium, 

strontium, and calcium. 

(d) The caustic alkalies may be known from their carbonates by the 
latter effervescing on the addition of dilute hydrochloric acid. 

f Carbonates of potash and soda, a white pre- 

(e) Sulphate of Magnesia D . ", ". , . , , , 

r . *.. * \ ±>icarbonates of potash and soda, no precipi- 

gives with . . J r > r r 

6 tate. 

Carbonate of ammonia, no precipitate. 

Potash and soda, a brown precipitate, insolu- 
ble in excess of the alkali. 

Ammonia, a, brown precipitate, soluble in ex- 
cess of the alkali. 

The carbonates, a yellowish-white precipi- 
tate, — 

The precipitate being soluble, in excess of 
alkali, with the carbonates of sodium aud 
potassium, but insoluble, in excess of alkali, 
( with carbonate of ammonium. 

(g) Lastly, in every case, previously to applying the several tests to the 
solutiou under examination for the alkalies, the absence of metallic oxides 
must be proved by treating the solution first with sulphuretted hydrogen, 
then with sulphide of ammonium, and then with carbonate of ammonium. 

Tests for Potash. 

1. Perchhride of platinum (PtC'1,1. 

Produces with the chloride of potassium (and for that reason first add 
hydrochloric acid to the solutiou you are testing) a yellow crystalline pre- 
cipitate (octahedra) of the potassio-chloride of platinum (2KC1, PtOl, >, 
which is almost insoluble either in cold water or in alcohol. 

Every 100 grs. of the double salt = 22.94 grs. of KHO, or 19.26 grs. 
of K 2 0." 

FaMacy. — A similar precipitate is also given with salts of ammonia 
(2X11,01, PtCl,). Hence before testing the solution for potash, it isneces- 

(/) Nitrate of silver gives 


sarv to prove the absence of ammonia compouuds. This may be done as 
follows : 

A. Boil a little of the solution under examination with a small quantity 
of caustic soda or potash. If ammonia be present — 

(a) The odor of ammonia will be evolved. 

(,?) A piece of turmeric-paper held over the test-tube will be turned 
of a brown color. 

B. Or, having precipitated the solution with the platinum salt, the pre- 
cipitate may be further tested as follows : 

Heat the precipitate to redness, dissolve in water and filter — 

(a) If it be a potash precipitate, platinum and chloride of potassium 
will be left after ignition. Act on this with water. A precipi- 
tate of chloride of silver will be produced when nitrate of silver 
is added to the solution. 

( ; 5) If it be an amnUmia precipitate, onlv platinum will be left, and 
no precipitate will be produced when nitrate of silver is added 
to the filtered solution. 

2. Picric or Carbuzotic Acid (alcoholic solution). 

A yellow precipitate (long needle crystals), insoluble in alcohol or in 
excess of picric acid, is produced — 

100 grs. of carbazotate of potash = 17.66 of K.O. 

Fallacies. — A precipitate is also produced with ammonia, with strong 
soda solutions, with many of the vegetable alkaloids, and with some of 
the metallic oxides. 

3. Tartaric Acid. 

Added in excess to neutral or alkaline solutions of potash, tartaric acid 
gives a white precipitate of cream of tartar (KH, C 4 HjO,). The precipi- 
tation is aided by the addition of a little alcohol, and by well stirring the 
solution. The precipitate is soluble in the mineral acids, in hot water, and 
in a large excess of cold water. 

Fallacy. — A precipitate is also produced with ammonia salts. 

4. Hydrofivosilicic Acid 

Gives a gelatinous precipitate insoluble in hydrochloric acid. 

5. Perchloric Acid 

Gives a white crystalline precipitate. 

6. All potassium salts heated on a piece of platinum-foil leave a fixed 
and usually fusible residue. 

7. Potassium and its salts give a violet color to flame, which is entirely 
obscured by the presence of the merest trace of a sodium salt. The potas- 
sium spectrum, which consists of two lines, one in the red and one in the 
blue, is very characteristic, and constitutes a test of great delicacy. 

Toxicological Analysis. 

The soapy feel, the frothy appearance, and the alkaline reaction of the 
mixture, are characteristic either of caustic potash, or soda, or their car- 

(1) It will generally be sufficient to evaporate the liquid under exam- 
ination to dryness, and to heat it thoroughly, so as to char the organic 


matter. The ash is theu to be digested in distilled water and filtered, 
when the alkali will be found in solution as a carbonate. The proper tests 
may then be applied. 

(2) But if it is considered necessary to separate the caustic alkali 
(whether potash or soda) from the carbonate that may be present, the 
liquid must first be evaporated to dryness, and the residue treated with 
absolute alcohol, which will not dissolve the carbonate, but will freely 
dissolve the caustic alkali. After filtration evaporate the alcoholic solu- 
tion to dryness, incinerate so as to get rid of organic matter, dissolve the 
residue in water, and test as directed. 

To Estimate Potash Quantitatively. — Add hydrochloric acid and an ex- 
cess of perchloride of platinum to the solution. Then concentrate the 
mixture nearly to dryness. Wash the residue in a mixture of ether and 
alcohol, so as to remove all excess of the perchloride of platinum. Collect 
the precipitate on a weighed filter; again wash with alcohol, and dry and 
weigh — 

100 parts = 22.94 of KHO 
= 19.26 of K.O 
= 28.5 of K;c0 3 . 

Potassic Carbonate (K 2 C0 3 = 138). 

This is sold by oilmen, and called either (1) potash, which is a deliques- 
cent solid, and largely used for cleaning lamps; or (2) pearlash, which is 
chiefly used for washing purposes. It was originally called potash, because 
it was contained in the ashes left after the combustion of wood. These 
ashes are lixiviated i i. e., mixed with water), and the clear solution boiled 
down in iron pots i hence the name potash I, and the residue thus formed 
afterwards calcined and sold as American ash or pearlash. 

It is very deliquescent, very soluble in water, insoluble in alcohol, turns 
red litmus blue, and melts at a red heat without decomposition. If saud 
I SiO . i lie mixed with it whilst in this melted state, potash glass or potas- 
sium silicate is formed, carbonic acid being expelled. 

On passing carbonic acid through a solution of carbonate of potash, a 
potassic bicarbonate (KHCO 3 =100) is funned. 

The symptoms and post-mortem appearances produced by the carbonate 
are similar to but less intense than those caused by the caustic alkali. 
In Dr. Barclay's case, where death occurred after a considerable interval, 
the lower opening of the stomach was so contracted as only to admit a 

Half an ounce may be considered a pi lisonous dose. Death has occurred 
as rapidly as three hours after taking this poison ; but it would seem that 
it more generally causes death after a considerable interval by secondary 
symptoms, such as by stricture of the gullet or stomach. 

For tests and examination of organic mixtures, vide Potash. 

Potaisdc Nitrate i KNO S =101). 

(Nitre, Saltpetre, Sal Prunella.) 

This salt is found in India upon the soil. It is collected by the natives, 
dissolved in water, and the solution allowed to evaporate in the sun, crys- 
tals of the salt being obtained in this way. It is formed whenever animal 
nitrogenized matters arc decomposed in contact with clay, or with any 
substance capable of yielding potash. 

It is largely used in making gunpowder. It is a white crystalline solid 
(striated six-sided prisms), having a cool, saline taste. It is soluble iu 


three and a half times its weight of water. It melts when heated, and 
when east into balls constitutes the sal-pruuelle balls of the shops. 

The eases of poisoning by it have beeu usually accidental, and commonly 
arise from its having been taken by mistake for the sulphates of soda or 

The symptoms it occasions are severe burning abdominal pains, with 
nausea and bloody vomiting, occasional purging, coldness in the limbs, 
nervous symptoms, such as convulsions and partial paralysis, tremors, 
great prostration, and collapse. The secretion of urine is often arrested. 

One ounce has in several cases pioved fatal; but recovery has taken 
place after two ounces. Very large doses have been given medicinally. 
Death is often as rapid as two, three, or five hours; but life has been 
prolonged to nearly three days. 

Post-mortem Appearances. — Considerable inflammatory action in the stom- 
ach and intestines, the mucous membraue being detached. Bloody mucus 
may be found in large quantities in the intestinal tract, whilst even per- 
foration of the stomach has been noted. 

As regards treatment, you must get rid of the poison by emetics and the 
stomach-pump, but which, if used, must be employed with very great care. 
Demulcents may be given freely. Opium and stimulants may be required. 

Inorganic mixtures. (Vide Potash and Nitric Acid.) 

Bisnlphate of Potash (KHSO,= 136). 
(Sal Polychrest, Sal de Duobus.) 

This salt is somewhat popular in France, from the power it is believed 
to possess of producing abortion ; and with that object it has beeu gener- 
ally administered. 

Symptoms. — Dr. Letheby pointed out that its action is that of a true 
and powerful irritant; pain, nausea, vomiting, purging, and cramps being 

It should be remembered that sulphate of potash is said to be often 
contaminated with sulphate of zinc, as well as with arsenate of potash, 
derived from the arsenic present in the sulphuric acid used in its manu- 

Ten drachms has proved fatal in two hours. 

The treatment is the same as that directed for nitrate of potash. 

In organic mixtures, evaporate the mixture to dryness, incinerate, and 
take up the sulphate with water. 

It must be remembered that a trace of sulphate is present in all animal 
tissues and fluids. 

Bitartrate of Potash (KHC 4 H 4 6 = 188). 
(Cream of Tartar, Argol.) 

By boiling this salt with carbonate of potash, a dipotassium tartrate is 
formed = (K.,C 4 H 4 6 ). 

By boiling it with carbonate of soda, the potassio-sodium tartrate, or 
Rochelfe salt is formed (KNaC 4 H 4 O s ). 

By boiling it with antimonious anhydride (Sh.,0 3 ), the potassio-autimo- 
nious tartrate, or tartar emetic, is formed (2 [K(SbO)C t H 4 6 lH ; ,0). 

Cream of tartar is a white solid, insoluble to a great extent in water, 
the solution having a feebly acid reaction. 

Its action is that of an irritant poison. 

Death has been caused in forty-eight hours by two and a half ounces. 


The treatment is the same as that directed for nitrate of potash. Small 
doses of bicarbonate of potash in milk may be giveu with advantage. 

The tartrates are known by their swelling up when ignited, giving off 
an odor of burnt sugar, and leaving a large charcoal residue. They also 
blacken when heated with strong sulphuric acid. 

Alum: Potassium Alum = (K,S0 4 , AL3SO, + 24H..O = 949). 
(Note. — NH„ or Na may be substituted for the K ; or Fe„ Mn.„ or Cr 2 
for the Al,) 

Alum, as found in the shops, is a colorless crystalline body. It is not 
often used as a poison. Its taste is sour, and its reaction when dissolved 
acid. The solution produces cubical or octahedral crystals when evapo- 
rated down or allowed to crystallize. It is soluble in eighteen parts of 
cold water. 

Alum is largely used in dyeing, in the arts, and in medicine. The 
symptoms produced by it in poisonous doses are those of an irritant. 

The treatment consists in getting rid of the poison by emetics and the 
stomach-pump. Lime-water has been recommended. 

Tests. — The Sulphuric Acid gives a white precipitate, with nitrate of 

The Alumina gives a gelatinous precipitate, with ammonia. 
The Potash gives a crystalline precipitate, with perchloride of 


Sulphide of Potassium (3K,S, + K 2 S0 4 = 696). 
(Liver of Sulphur.) 

All the sulphides act as irritant poisons. Sometimes their action is very 
rapid. That they have been swallowed will be known by the intense odor 
of sulphuretted hydrogen in the breath and in all discharges. 

On examining the stomach after death the ordinary post-mortem appear- 
ances of an irritant poison will be found, and probably the deposition of 
sulphur on the lining membranes. 

The treatment is that of irritant poisoning generally. Dilute solutions 
of bleaching liquids (chloride of lime or soda) are recommended. 

Tests. — Sulphuretted hydrogen will be given off when the material is 
treated with an acid, and will be known by its blackening lead paper. 

Binoxalate of Potash. ( Vide Oxalic Acid.) 

Iodide of Potassium. ( Vide Iodine.) 

Cyanide of Potassium. ( Vide Hydrocyanic Acid.) 

Cases of Poisoning by Potash and Salts of Potassium. 


CASE 1.— Berlin "Med. Zeltung," 1857, No. LI. (Dr. Dentsch). Male: set. 55. A glass of soap- 
lees (=30 per cent, of caustic potash ; quantity taken = Xss. of potash). 

St/mpfoms. — Mouth and fauces immediately became hluish-red ; pain intense; feeling of constric- 
tion in (esophagus; inability to swallow; slight convulsions; for a long time the inability to swal- 
low continued; and after twenty-eight weeks he died from inanition. 

Result. — Death in twenty-eight weeks. 

Post-mortem. — The lower part of the oesophagus was immensely thickened ; the cardiac aperture 
of the stomach would scarcely admit a crowquill; no ulcers; the stomach was small, empty, con- 
tracted, and bloodless; otherwise both stomach and intestines were normal. 

CASE 2. — Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 231. Female; adult. Sjss. of common potash 
solution (=5 per cent, of KHO). 

Symptoms. — Irritation, from which she recovered for a time. Died of exhaustion. 

Result.— Death in seven weeks. 


of Poisoning by Caustic Potash are recorded in — 
" Medical Times and Gazette," August 1st, 1863, p. 180. I Death. Female : set 53.) 
" Areh.d. H. ilk," 1872, p. 813. Death in twenty-two hours from lobular pneumonia.) 
Sir Charles Bell's "Surgical Observations," part i, j> B2. 


CASE 3.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," p. 231. Male: boy. 3iij of a strong solution. 

Result.— IVuth in three hours. 

CASE L— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 231 (Dr. Cox). Male: ret. 3. Small quantity of a 
strong solution. 

Result. — Death in twenty-four hours. 

Post-mortem,— Death from suffocation, induced by inflammation of the larvnx. 

CASK 5.— "Medical Times and Gazette," 1853, p. 554, November 2Gth (Dr. Barclay). Female: set. 44. 
A quantity, f) 

Symptom, — Immediate vomiting; mouth and throat corroded ; pain on swallowing; death from 
starvation from inability to take food. 

Result. — Death in two months. 

Post-mortem. — Lower part of the gullet contracted, and lining membrane destroyed; muscular 
coat thickened and exposed ; the lower opening of the stomach was so contracted as only to admit 
a probe; otherwise healthy. 

CASE 6 -Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 232. Male: adult. Quantity. (?) 

Symptoms. — Pain and vomiting. 

Result.— Death in four months. 

Post-mortem. — Stricture of the gullet. 

CASE 7 —Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 232 (Orfila). Two young men. 3ss. 

Symptoms. — Recovered from first symptoms. 

Result.— (1) Death in three months. 

Result. — (2) D j ath in four months. 

CASE 8.—" Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," xxx, p. 309 (Mr. Dewar). Boy. 3iij of a 
strong solution. 

Result, — Death in twelve hours. 

CASE 9. — Beck's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 524. Female: a?t. 12. 5ss. 

Symptoms.— Immediate; and continued uninterruptedly. 

Result. — Death in two months. 

CASE 10.— Beck's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 524. Female: a?t. 16. Jss. 

Symptoms — Set in directly, but abated after a few days. A relapse afterwards occurred. 

Result. — Death in three months. 


CASE 11.— "Orfila," i, 2S3. Female: 3j. 

Symptom.*. — Vomiting in fifteen minutes; pain in stomach ; difficult breathing. 
Result. — Death in three hours. 

Po*t-morfem. — Stomach inflamed, and mucous membrane detached. 
CASE 12— "Orfila," i, 283. Sss. 
Result, — Death in sixty hours. 
Post-mortem. — Perforation found in stomach. 

CASE 13.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 237 (Dr. Geoghegan). Male: adult. 3j — 3jss. 
Symptoms — Pain; vomiting; no purging. 
Result.— Death in two hours. 

Post-mortem. — Inflammation of stomach. None of the nitrate found after death. 
CASE 14. — Casper's "Wochenschrift," 1841, No. 18. Male: adult. Two men swallowed 3j by 

Symptoms.— Vomiting, and bloody purging. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 15— Casper's "Wochenschrift." 1841, No. IS. Male. 3j. 

Result. — Death in thirty-six hours. 

CASE 16.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," p. 238. Male: a?t. 60. 3x. 

Symptoms. — Pu rgi ng. 

Result. — Death in five hours. 

Post-mortem — Signs of great irritation in the stomach. 

CASE 17.—" Pharmaceutical Journal," February, 1846, p. 356. Female : set. 28. 3j in two doses. 

Symptoms. — Pain; vomiting; no purging; secretion of urine arrested. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 18.— "Provincial Medical Journal," August 19th. 1846, p. 382 (Mr.Gillard). Male: adult. 3ij. 

Symptoms.— Pain and sickness set in in five minutes; vomiting induced by mustard. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 19.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 23S (Mr. Fuller). Male: adult. 5j. 

Symptom*. — Vomiting; do purging. 

Re-suit. — Death in three hours. 

Post-mor'em. — Stomach and duodenum much inflamed. 

CASE 20.— "Medical Times and Gazette," November 7th, 1S57, p. 484 I Mr. Daviea). Female. 5j in 

Symptoms. — The following day seemed quite collapsed ; vomiting; swollen abdomen ; purging, with 
bloody stool. 

Resu It.— Recove ry . 

CASE 21.— "Medical Times and Gazette," August 30th, 1856, p. 220 (Dr. Deutseh). From "Berlin 
Zeitung," 1S55, No. 49. Male : aet. 30. 3yj at one dose, Sjss. having been taken previously in small 

Symptoms. — Insensibility after the 5 vj dose ; trembling; slight convulsions; hallucination of senses; 
pariial paralysis of muscular action. Suffered for some time after from derangement of urinary and 
digestive organs. 

Result. — Recovery. 

A Case of Poisoning by Nitrate of Potash is recorded in 

"British Medical Journal," January 9th, 1864, p. 56. 


CASE 22. — "Ann. d'Hygiene." April, 1S42. Female: adult. 5x taken as a laxative a week after 

Symptoms. — Pain; nausea; vomiting; purging; cramps. 

Result. — Death in two hours. 

Post-mortem. — Mucous membrane of stomach and intestines pale; reddish-colored liquid found in 

CASE 23.— "Medical Times and Gazette," December 30th, 1843, p. 175; Taylor's "Medical Juris- 
prudence," p. j:;:' ii.jueeu v. Hay nes'>, October, 1S43. Female: adult. 5ij. Given to induce miscar- 

Result. — Death in one hour and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach very inflamed; blood effused on the brain. 

CASE 24.— "Medical Times and Gazette," October 25th, 1856, p. 420 (Queen v. Gaylor). Female: 
adult, sij. To procure abortion. 

Symptoms. — Severe irritation of stomach ; pain ; vomiting and purging. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach inflamed. 

See a/so Oases m "Mem. Acad. Nat. Cur.," 1S62, from Gusellius; "Journal de Medecine," vol. lxii 
(Sobaux); " Journal de Pharmacie," March, 1843 [Morita ; '■ Medical Gazette," vol. xxxiii, p. 54. 


CASE 25.—" Lancet," October 28th, 1837, p. 162 (Mr. Tyson ;. Male ; cet. 37. At least a quarter of 
a pound. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and purging; great pain and thirst set in in twenty-four hours ; legs 
appeared paralyzed; vomit of a blackish-green color. 

Result. — Death in forty-eight hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach, duodenum, aud rectum inflamed in patches; other viscera healthy. 


CASE 26. — "L'L'nion Medicale," No. G4, 1S73. Male: art. 27. Fifty grammes ( = one ounce, five 

Symptoms. — Immediate burning sensation and feeling of constriction; nausea and vomiting; no 
diarrhoea ; intense agony ; intellect clear. 

Result. — Death in eight hours. 

Post-mortem. — The whole of the digestive canal inflamed. 


(Na = At. Wt. 23.) 

(Sp. Gr. 0.972 : melts at 90° C.) 

Sodium is prepared by treating sodium carbonate I Na .CO .) with carbon 
in a similar manner to that adopted iu the preparation of potassium. It 
forms two oxides, Na,0 and Na,0 P 

Sodium Hydrate (NaHO =40). 

(Caustic Soda.) 



Caustic soda is obtained from the carbonate by the same method that is 
adopted in the preparation of caustic potash. It is a white solid, very 
soluble in water. The soda-lye (solution of the hydrate in water) boiled 
with fat or oil constitutes hard soap. The marine soap which is soluble 
in salt water is made from soda-lye and cocoauut oil. 

Strength of Aqueous Solution* of Soda of Various Gravities. 

Specific Gravity. 

Per cent, of Na»0. 

Specific Gravity. 

Per cent, of Na,0. 



1 194 



26 59 




22 96 










4 83 




2 41 


14 50 


1 20 

The action of caustic soda on animal tissues is a little less energetic than 
that of potash. It has, however, not much interest medico-legally. The 
salts are colorless, and are all soluble in water. 

Respecting the symptoms, post-mortem appearances, and treatment, what 
has been said of potash will apply equally to caustic soda (see Potash). 

Tests I aide page 106). 

1. Antimoniate of Potash. 

I The test solution must be prepared fresh each time it is required.) 

If the solution to be tested be acid, neutralize it first of all carefully 
with potash, and then add the test solution, when a white precipitate of 
antimoniate of soda will be produced. 

fallacy. — The test produces a precipitate with many metallic oxides, the 
absence of which must first be proved. 

Xo precipitate is given by it with ammonia or potash. 

2. Action of Polarized Light ("Chemical Gazette," x, 378 . The double 
platinum salt of soda at once restores light to the dark field of the polari- 

Proceed as follows: After getting rid of all bases from your solution 
add hydrochloric acid and a small quantity of a solution of perchloride 
of platinum ; evaporate until the salt begins to crystallize : arrange the 
apparatus so that the field of view is dark, that is, the analyzer being at 
right angles to the polarizer. Immediately the crystals containing the 
sodium salt are placed in the field, light will be restored, and a play of 
color observed. Neither the potassium salt nor the platinum salt alone 
possesses this power. It is said that the g-j-jV&o 1 ' 1 S r - °f Na,0 may be thus 

3. Picric or Carbazotic Acid. 

Produces a yellow precipitate of radiating feathery crystals. 

4. All sodium salts heated on platinum : 

1st. Leave a fixed residue, which is generally fusible. 
2d. The least trace of this residue gives a yellow color to flame. 
3d. Examined with the spectroscope it produces a yellow baud at 
the D line of the spectrum. 
For recovery of caustic soda from organic mixtures in toxicological ex- 
aminations, ride Potash. 

Sodie Carbonate (= Na,0O, - 10HX) = 106 + 180). 
(Common washing soda: Scotch soda: Soda. Soap-lees.) 


This was formerly made from the ashes of sea-weeds. Land plants con- 
tain potash-salts and their ash K.,CO :j , sea plants contain soda-salts and 
their ash Na 2 CO ;! . This ash (kelp, barilla, or varec) is now used for the 
extraction of the iodine, and not for the carbonate of soda, which is ordi- 
narily prepared from common salt by the process of Leblanc. 

It consists of large efflorescent crystals, melting when heated in their 
water of crystallization. If the heat be further continued, anhydrous 
sodium carbonate remains. It is very soluble in water, insoluble in alco- 
hol, and has a disagreeable taste. It is strongly alkaline to test paper. 

Commercial soda ordinarily contains sulphuric acid and chlorine, and 
occasionally hyposulphurous acid, sulphide, and cyanide. 

Common soda is largely sold by oilmen for cleansing purposes. It acts 
as an irritant poison. 

Hydric Sodic Carbonate (NaHCO, = 84). 

( Bicarbonate of Soda.) 

This is prepared by exposing crystals of the carbonate to the action of 
carbonic acid gas. It is less soluble in water than sodic carbonate. 

Sodium Chloride (NaCl = 58.5). 
(Common Salt.) 

Common salt is found native and may also be obtained from natural 
springs and from sea water (= bay salt). 

In large quantities it acts as an irritant poison. — Appropriate treatment 
for irritant poisoning must be adopted. 

Sodium Sulphide. 
Vide Potassium Sulphide. 

Sodium Nitrate (NaN0 3 ). 

(Cubic Nitre or Chili Saltpetre, Fig. 9.) 

Vide Potassium Nitrate. 

Fin. n. 

Crystals ul Nitrate of soda uiaguintd ;io diameters. 
Cases of Poisoning by Sodium and its Salts. 


CASE 1.— See "Lancet," November 3d, 1SG6, p. SOS. 


CASE 2.—" Lancet," March 2d, 185(1 (Or. Barnaul). Soap-lees. 
Result. — Died ; aged two years and a quarter. 
Posl-morlem. — Stricture of cesopuagus. 



CASE S.— "Medical Times," November 30th, 1S50, p. 504 (Dr. Tunstall). Male. Took Jij for six- 
teen years daily. 

Sgmpfonu. — Dr. Tunstall traces this death to the drug. 

RBtuil. — Died suddenly. 

Post-nf>r!. m.— Stomach very diseased. 

CASK 4.— "Medical Times and Gazette," August 13th, 1SG4, p. 187. Female. About three-quarters 
Of a pound of common washing soda taken in water. 

Symptoms. — Great pain, rigors,and headache; difficulty in passing water; and great thirst. Nausea. 
Trine very alkaline for several days. 

Rrsuit. — Recove ry . 


CASE B.— " Medical Times," vol. i, January 4th, 1S40, p. 1S3. Half a pound. 
Symptom*. — Paralysis. 
JUmlt.— Death. 


(H,N = 18.) 

The existence of tlie compound radical ammonium is only as yet as- 
sumed. We regard it (H 4 N) as a compound metal just as we regard 
cyanogen (CN) as a compound halogen. 

Ammonia gas ( NH, = 17) is set tree by heating two parts of sal ammo- 
niac (NH,C1) with three of well-slaked lime. 

2(NH,C1) + CaO, HX> = 2(]S'H 3 ) + CaCl, + 2(H 2 0). 

To form the liquor ammonite the gas is passed into water which dissolves 
at 0° Cent, more than 1000 times, and at 17° Cent, about 700 times its 
bulk. It has a sp. gr. of 8.5. It has a very pungent smell and an ex- 
ceedingly corrosive action on animal tissues. It turns red litmus blue, but 
the original color in time comes back. It is, therefore, a volatile and not 
a fixed alkali. It can be made to burn, although with great difficulty. 
It is decomposed by the electric spark, and also by passing it through a 
red-hot tube, the decomposed gases occupying double the space of the un- 
decomposed gas. It can be liquefied bv a pressure of 6 atmospheres at 
10° Cent. 

Ammonia gas is a constituent of the atmosphere, and is given oft* when 
animal and vegetable substances containing nitrogen undergo putrefaction. 
It is further produced in large quantities during the manufacture of coal 

Solution of Ammonia. 

(Spirits of Hartshorn — Aqua Ammonia; — Liquor Ammonia;.) 

This solution may be regarded as ammonium hydrate ([H,N]HO). It 
is largely used both in the arts and in medicine. When pure it is color- 
less, and leaves no residue when evaporated to dryness. The gas is given 
off freely when the solution is heated. It has a pungent smell, and a 
powerful alkaline reaction. 

Table showing the Percentage of Ammonia (NH 3 ) in Liquids of various 


Specific Gravity. 

Percent, of NH,. 

Specific Gravity. 

Per cent, of NH» 


32 30 




29 25 




2fi 00 


13 46 




12 40 


22 07 












The salts of ammonia are colorless, and volatile by heat, whilst all 
(excepting the acid tartrate) are freely soluble in water. They are de- 
composed and ammonia gas set free by the action of heat applied iu the 
presence of the fixed caustic alkalies. 

Symptoms ; Dose, etc. 

If the solution of the gas be administered, the symptoms produced are 
very similar to those resulting from the action of soda and potash, except- 
ing iu two particulars, (1) that the symptoms are more severe, and (2) 
that dyspncea, which is not a very prominent symptom with the fixed 
alkalies, is always very intense in ammonia poisoning. After the active 
stage has passed away there is a better chance of recovery than with either 
potash or soda. 

Iu the form of vapor it has produced intensely severe effects, such as 
violent dyspncea, pain, suffocation, with extreme irritation of the larynx, 
lungs, and air-passages. Even its indiscriminate use for rousing persons 
from fainting fits has been accompanied with bad results. 

Death has taken place in as short a time as four minutes, whilst it has 
been delayed for nineteen days and even three mouths. Cases of death 
are on record in four and five hours, and in two, three, and four days. 

As regards quantity, two drachms of the strong solution has proved fatal. 
Half an ounce is usually a poisonous dose, but recovery is recorded after 
one ounce. One of the authors has met with three or four cases of re- 
covery after three or four drachms of liquid ammonia. 

Post- mortem Appea ra n ces. 

These are similar to those produced by potash and soda (page lOo) ; an 
extremely fluid state of the blood, fatty changes in the liver and kidneys, 
and softness of the spleen have been specially noticed. 


The treatment to be adopted must be similar to that recommended for 
potash and soda. Iu poisoning by the vapor, the inhalation of acetic or 
dilute hydrochloric acid constitutes the most appropriate treatment. 

The action of the tetramethyl of ammonium has of late been investigated 
by M. Rabuteau ; one-sixth of a grain killed a frog iu five minutes, aud 
ten grains killed a dog in a few hours. 

Tests for Ammonia and its Salts. 

1. Ammouia salts are known— 

(a) By their being entirely dissipated when heated on platinum-foil, 

unless a fixed acid or foreign matter be present. 

(b) Treated either with lime, caustic potash, or soda, and heated, free 

ammonia is given off. This is known — 

1. By its odor. 

2. By its action on turmeric-paper. 

3. By white fumes being produced (NH 4 C1) when a rod moistened 

with hydrochloric acid is brought near. 

2. Perehloride of Platinum. — In neutral or slightly acid solutions, a 
yellow crystalline precipitate of ammonio-chloride of platinum (2X11,01, 
PtCl, = 44(5.4), sparingly soluble iu dilute mineral acids, or in free alka- 
lies, is produced. 


Fallacy. — The precipitate is very similar to the potash precipitate. To 
distinguish them, vide page 107. 

No precipitate is produced when the platinum chloride is added to 
solutions of sodium salts. 

3. Tartaric Acid. — In neutral solutions, if they be not very dilute, a white 
crystalline precipitate of tartrate of ammonium | NH 4 H 6 C 4 6 = 167), solu- 
ble in alkalies and in dilute mineral acids, is produced. 

4. Picric Add I alcoholic solution). 

Gives in neutral solutions a yellow crystalline precipitate soluble in 

5. Nessler's Solution. 

This test is exceedingly delicate. It consists in the addition of an excess 
of iodide of potassium to a solution of mercuric chloride (HgC'l, I, until the 
mercuric iodide formed is redissolved, an excess of free potash being added. 

Preparation. — Dissolve 550 grs. of iodide of potassium in 5 oz. of water, 
and 220 grs. of corrosive sublimate in 5 oz. of water, and 900 grs. of 
potash in 5 oz. of water. Add the iodide of potassium solution to the 
corrosive sublimate solution, then add the potash solution, and make up 
to 20 oz. with water. Allow the solution to settle, and decant when clear. 

This liquid gives a brown discoloration with the merest trace of ammo- 
nia, a hydrargyro-iodide of ammonium being said to be formed. The re- 
action does not take place in the presence of cyanides, and it is also 
influenced to an extent by an excess of chlorides. 

6. Photphomolybdate of Soda (Sonnenschein). 

Gives a yellow precipitate of phospho-molybdate of ammonia. It con- 
stitutes a very delicate test for ammonia. A similar precipitate is pro- 
duced with potash, but not with soda-salts. 

Toxicological A nalysis. 

If the organic matter is in a state of decomposition, it will be very little 
good iu attempting to recover the ammonia that has been the cause of 
death, for not only is ammonia volatile, but is itself produced by decom- 
posing organic matters. 

If only ammonia or the carbonate be present, the liquid will have an 
ammonia odor and an alkaline reaction. Distil over about one-fourth of 
the organic liquid, conducting the vapors through a bent tube into a well- 
cooled receiver containing a little water acidulated with hydrochloric acid. 
If no ammonia be given otf in this way, proceed to examine the materials 
for other ammonia salts. 

To do this, Wormley advises to act on the residue in the retort with 
strong alcohol. Filter. Treat the filtrate with caustic potash and distil 
as before. Test the acid solution for ammonia by the several tests. 

Ammonia is estimated quantitatively either by the Nessler test, or as 
ammouio-chloride of platinum {see Potash). 

100 grs. = 7.62 of XH,. 
" = 15.68 of (H 4 N)HO. 

Sesquiearboiwte of Ammonia (2[2(H,X)C0 3 ]CO.,= 236). 
i Smelling Salts. The Solution is called Sal Volatile.) 

It is prepared by heating chalk with about half its weight of powdered 
sal ammoniac and subliming. Much free ammonia is generated during 
the process. 

6H.NC1 + 3CaCO, = 3CaCl 2 + 2[2cH 4 X jC0 3 ]C0 2 + 2H 3 N + H 2 0. 


It is very volatile, having an ammonia smell, and becomes a bicarbonate 
when exposed to air. It is soluble in cold water. 

The symptoms and post-mortem appearances are the same as those 
already described (see Potash). 

Death has been both rapid and delayed. 

Teds (vide page 116). 
It may be known — 

1. Froni carbonates of soda and potash; by its being volatile, by its 
giving no precipitate with sulphate of magnesia, and by its turning a 
sulphate of copper solution a deep blue. 

2. From other carbonates; by its odor, alkalinity, and volatility. 

3. From ammonia; by effervescing with an acid, and by giving a white 
precipitate with chloride of calcium. 

Chloride of Ammonium (NH 4 C1). 
(^Sal Ammoniac.) 

It cousists of colorless crystals, soluble both in water and in alcohol. 
It is generally made from the ammouiacal liquor of gas works by neu- 
tralizing it with hydrochloric acid. 

One case of poisoning by its action is recorded. 

Cases of Poisoning by Ammonia and its Salts. 


CASE 1. — Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 233. Vapor used to rouse the patient, who was an 

Symptoms. — Croup. 

Result. — Death in two days. 

CASE 2.— "Christison," p. 194. Male. Adult. Solution. 

Result. — Death in four minutes. 

CASE 3. — "Journal de Phanuaeie," October, 1846, p. 285. 5j-5ij liq. ammonia:. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and bloody purging. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Blood infused in intestines; blood very fluid. 

CASE 4.— "Journal de Chimie Medicate," 1S45, p. 531. Male. Siss. of liq. ammonia:. 

Symptoms. — Fell down instantly insensible. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 5.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 234 (Mr. Hilton). Male: adult. Liq. ammonia;. 

Symptoms.— Symptoms immediate from local irritation ; great difficulty of breathing. 

Result. — Deatli iu three days. 

Post-moittm. — Corrosion in various parts, with perforation of stomach; stomach very congested. 
None of the poison found. 

CASE 6.— "Edinburgh Medical Journal," 1857, vol. ii, p. 236 (Dr. Patterson). Male: ret. 40. Sij of 
liq. ammonia* or carbonate (?). 

Symptom*. — Pain and instant vomiting; difficult breathing. 

Result. — Death in nineteen days. 

CASE 7. — "American Journal of Medical Science," January, 1870, p. 275 (Dr. Kerr). Male: set. 70. 
Two mouthluls of liq. ammonite. 

Symptoms.— Imm diate suffocation and vomiting. 

Result. — Death iu four hours. 

Post-mortem. — Great general congestion ; lining membrane of mouth, throat, etc., destroyed. 

CASE 8.— "Lancet," 1870, vol. i, p. 467. Male. 3ss. of liq. ammonia:. 

Result. — Death in five hours. 

CASE 9.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 235 (Mr. Tyerman). Male: set. 62. Sij of liu. 
carapfa. co. and liq. ammonia: = Sijss. 

Symptoms. — Lost the power of swallowing from inflammation. 

Result.— Recovery in four days. 


CASE 10.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 235 (Mr. Gill). Infant four days old. Small 
quantity of lin. catnph. co. 

Symptvrns. — Pain; clenched hands; difficulty iu swallowing and breathing. 

Result. — Death in thirty-two hours. 

CASE 11— "Lancet," ApriWth, l$46.p. 3S5(Mr.E. P. Wilkins>. Female: set. 24. A strong solution. 

Symptoms. — Immediate insensibility; ^rcat pain; voice became a mere whisper; chokiug seusa- 
tiou ou swallowing; convulsions. Recovered iu a fortnight. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 12.— "Medical Times and Gazette," October Sth, 1864, p. 385 (Dr. Woodman). Female: set. 18. 
Sj of the strongest solution. 

Symptoms.— Instant vomiting. In four hours tongue, lips, and tonsils appeared white in patches, 
and stripped of epithelium ; pupils dilated ; great headache; pain in throat and stomach ; glands of 
Deck swollen and tender; great tendency to syncope. Urine became scanty and dark-colored. 

li'suit. — Recovery. 

CASE IS.— "Medical Times and Gazette," August 2d, 1S62, p. US (M. Potain). Male: set. 44. Siij 
of liq. ammonia? = 100 grammes. 

Symptoms — Immediate symptoms of suffocation; pain and prostration; bloody vomiting and 
purging; difficulty ol swallowing. 

Result.— Death iu ten days. 

Post-mortem.— Larynx and pharynx of a bright red color ; oesophagus ulcerated; stomach natural, 
excepting an ulcer at the cardiac orifice; iutestiues natural ; kidneys fatty. 

CASE 14.— "Medical Times and Gazette." July 21st, 1865, p. 59 (Dr. Wilson Reed). Male: set. 35. 
Liniment ofliq. am. fort. 3iij, anim. carb. 3iij. ol. olivae sij. 

Symptoms. — Immediate burning pain in throat and stomach ; loss of speech ; bloody secretion from 
mouth and uares ; profu»e perspiration ; vomiting ; insensibility in three hours; urine said to have 
been bloody ; extreme inflammatory symptoms set iu. No difficulty iu swallowing. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 15.— "Med. Chi. Centralblatt," July 4th, 1S73 (Dr. Winter). Male: set. 28. 3iij of strong liq. 

Symptoms. — Skin pale and cold; early vomiting; intellect clear ; pupils widely dilated ; mouth and 
throat ;>wollen and tender; laryngeal symptoms not severe, but the voice weak and hoarse; great 
pain along the oesophagus, but not in the stumach ; no abdominal distension; great quantity of 
urates found iu urine the following day. No actionof bowels for five days. (Vinegar, ice, and clear 
cold soups given.) 

Result — Recovery. 

I Asi; 16.—*' Med. Chi. Monatshefte," p. 493, January, 1857. Male. 5j. 

Stjmjt.'oms. — Severe laryngeal symptoms, profuse salivation, and great general emaciation. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 17. — "Guy's Hospital Reports," third series, xvii, p. 225 (Dr. Stevenson). A teaspoonful of 
strong liq. ammonia?, sp. gr. 0.88. 

Symptom*. — No asphyxia. 

Result. — Death suddenly 

CASE IS.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," p. 236. Male : adult. 3v of a solution. 

Symptoms.— Id ten minutes stupor came on. Suffered for some time after from irritation about the 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 19 — "Medical Times and Gazette," November 26th, 1853, p. 554 (Dr. Barclay). Female: art. 
19. A quantity of hartshorn. 

Symptoms.— Vomiting of blood; irritability of stomach ; constipation. 

Result. — Death in three mouths. 

"rtem. — Gullet healthy; cardiac orifice of stomach slightly contracted, and the intestinal 
orifice contracted to size of crowquill. 

CASE 20.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 236 (Dr. Proctor). Infant: four weeks. A tea- 
spoonful of hartshorn. 

Symptoms. — No vomiting or purging; no excoriation of mouth or throat. 

Result. — Death in thirty-six hours. 

CASE 21. — "Lancet," December 1st, 1S49, p. 575 (Mr. Ilitfj. Male: ieU 2. oiv spirits of hartshorn 
merely taken into the mouth. 

Symptoms. — Immediate vomiting; croupy breathing; probably none went into the stomach. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 22.—" Lancet," March 13th, 1852, p. 261 (Mr. Trotter). Male : 36. Sj of hartshorn in milk by 
mistake for castor oil. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting: great pain ; lips and mouth excoriated and white. No diarrhoea. 

Result. — Recovery in two days. 

For other Cases of Poisoning by Ammonia and the Fames, see 

- Lancet," February 10th, 1S66, p. 162; " Ann. d'Hygiene," January, 1841 (vapor). 
'' Medical Times," December 5th, 1^40, p. 112 (from the vapor,; " Medical Times and Gazette," May 
26th, 1855 (liniment). 
"Montj>ellier Med.," November, 1871, p. 527 (poisoning from the fumes). 



CASE 23.— "Lancet," June 6th, 1S68, p. 720 (Dr. C. Browne). Male: set. 25. A quantity taken dur- 
ing six hours. 

Symptoms. — No symptoms for at least two hours after the last dose; afterwards giddiness; stag- 
gering; pain in stomach ; delirium; convulsions; pupils normal. The following day he seemed for 
a time hotter, hut bad symptoms came on. An hour afterwards he was reported dead. The medical 
officer detected a flutter of the pulse, and commenced vigorous measures for resuscitation. After a 
time convulsions came on, and opisthotonos, then muscular relaxation, and consciousness in about 
fifteen minutes. Delirium returned in one hour. He was unable to pass water; and, with some symp- 
toms of drowsiness aud delirium, he made a perfect recovery by the following morning. 

Result. — Reco v ery . 


As regards lithium, rubidium, and coesium, they are no doubt poisons, 
but from their extreme rarity are of little interest to the medical jurist. 
The use of lithium in medicine in cases of gout depends on the fact that 
it forms with uric acid a very soluble salt, a very small quantity only 
being needed to keep in solution a large quantity of the acid. In this way 
uric acid may be got out of the system (for lithia is itself a diuretic), aud 
its deposition prevented. 



Barium — Symptoms, etc.— Experiments on Animals — Tests — Cases of Poisoning — 

Siruntium — Calcium. 

Barium (Ha); Strontium (Sr); Calcium (Ca). 

The oxides of these metals are called alkaline earths, viz., Baryta 
(BaOj; Strontia (SrO); and Lime (CaO). They are all nearly insoluble 
in water. 

The metals of the alkaline earths differ from the metals of the alkalies 
in the following respects : 

1. They are divalent, the alkaline metals being univalent. 

2. They are all heavier than water, the alkaline metals being lighter. 

3. They decompose water much less rapidly. 

4. Their carbonates are insoluble in pure water, but soluble when the 
water contains carbonic acid in solutiou. 

BARIUM (Ba = 137; sp. gr. 4.00). 

Barium is but little known in a free state. Both it and its soluble salts 
are very poisonous. 

Barium Compounds. 

Baryta (BaO = 153) is prepared by heating nitrate of baryta (Ba2X0 3 ) 
in a crucible to redness. It combines with water very energetically, form- 

Barium Hydrate (BaO, H 2 = 171). (Crystals BaO, H,0 + 8H..0 
= 171 + 144.) The hydrate is soluble in twenty parts of cold and in 
three parts of hot water. 


Barium Sulphate (BaSO < = 233"). The sulphate is very insoluble, and 
it is doubtful whether it is a poison. It is called heavy spar and is used 
as a substitute for and an adulterant of white lead (permanent white). 

Barium Chloride I BaCl,=208). (Crystals=BaCl,, 2H..O = 208 + 36.) 
The chloride crystallizes in thin pearly plates. It is insoluble in absolute 

Barium Nitrate i Ba, 2X0 3 =261) is largely used in pyrotechnv. When 
heated, BaO is left. 

Barium Carbonate (BaC0 3 = 197) Witherite. It is insoluble in water, 
but is easily soluble in the acid juices of the stomach. It is used as a rat 
poison. A drachm is said to be a fatal dose. 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

The symptoms produced by Baryta and its salts are those of an irritant 
poison, (treat pain in the stomach and bowels, a heaving palpitation of 
the heart, with purging and vomiting, are the prominent symptoms. 

Towards the close of the case, brain and nervous symptoms usually occur, 
such as giddiness, cramps, paralysis, and violent convulsions. 

Death has resulted from one drachm of the chloride, whilst bad symp- 
toms were produced in one case by less than three grains given in divided 
doses. A case is recorded of poisonous symptoms being produced in a child 
by its sucking a paper collar that had been stiffened with sulphate of 
Baryta (?) ("British Medical Journal," February 8th, 1868, p. 136). 

Death has occurred in one hour and been delayed for seventeen. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

Those recorded in the human subject are very similar to what have 
beeu observed as having occurred in animals. The effects in the main are 
those of an irritant poison. In a case coming under the observation of 
one of the authors there was great congestion of the brain and its mem- 
branes, both sides of the heart were full of black blood, and the lungs 
much inflamed. The stomach as well as the duodenum showed signs of 
considerable inflammatory action. Perforation has in one case been re- 
corded. The remainder of the intestines were not in the case referred to 
inflamed until the rectum was reached, and this was found to be in a state 
of great congestion. 

Orfila has pointed out that the salts of barium are cpuickly absorbed and 
may be detected after death in the liver, spleen, and kidneys. 


The treatment consists in the free administration of the soluble sulphates, 
such as those of sodium and magnesium. The stomach-pump may be used 
if the case be seen earlv, and emetics must be given freely. 



Experiments on Animals. 

The following is a tabulated list of the results obtained by several in- 
vestigators : 


10 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodman). 

5 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodman). 

30 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Wood mail j. 

10 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodmau >. 

20 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodman). 

30 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodman i. 

60 grains of Nitrate 
ot Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodman). 

120 grains of Nitrate 
of Baryta (Tidy 
and Woodman). 

5 grains of Chloride 
ot Barium (Orfila). 

10 grains of Chlo- 
ride of Barium 

3 grains of Chloride 
of Barium* Brodie). 

3ij of Chloride of 
Barium ■ Huzard 
and Biron). 

3ij of Carbonate of 
Baryta (Campbell). 

15 grains of i arbo- 
nate of Baryta 

12 grains of Carbo- 
nate of Baryta 


Rabbit (by 

Rabbit | by 
mouth i. 

Small terrier 
(by mouth). 

Dog (by 

Dog (by 


Dog (by 


Large dog (by 

Large dog (by 

(Injected into 
veins of a 

Applied to a 
wound on the 
back of a rab- 

Cat(bymoutb |. 

Horse (by 
mouth |. 

Dog (by 

Dog (by 

Applied to a 
wound on the 
neck of a cat. 




Convulsions in 2 
hours. Violent 

purging. Pupils 

Insensible in 2 hours, 
with vomiting, 
purging, aud con- 
vulsions. Pupils 

No marked symp- 
toms for 17 hours, 
when convulsions, 
vomiting, a nd purg- 
ing occurred. In 
28 hours paralysis. 

Vomiting and purg- 
ing in 'S}4 hours. 
Convulsions in 6 

In 22 hours convul- 
sions and purging. 

In 8 hours convul- 
sions and purging 
— passed a large 
quantity of water. 
In 23 hours paraly- 
sis of hind legs. 

Couvulsions, purg- 
ing, arid vomiting 
in 1 hour. Great 
thirst ; passed a 
large quantity of 


Convulsions, palsy, 

Death in 1 

Death in 26 

in about 4 

Recovered in 
■i days. 

Recovered in 
2 days. 

Recovered in 
3 days. 

Recovered in 
2 uays. 

Pupilsdilated. Brain, 
liver, aud lunga 
congested. Stomach 
rotten and inflam- 
ed. Rectum very 

Brain normal. Stom- 
ach inflamed and 
very rotten. Lungs 
and liver congested. 
Rectum very con- 
gested. No 'appar- 
ent change in the 
small intestines. 

Brain normal. Lungs, 
liver, stomach, and 
duodenum congest- 
ed. Rectum in- 
tensely so. 

Death in 2)4 Brain normal; lungs, 



Death in 6 
1 minutes. 

Death in 20 

Death in 1 

Death in 15 


Death in 6 

Death in 15 



liver, kidney- sto- 
mach, and all the 

intestines, but es- 
peciallythe rectum, 
deeply congested. 

Bladder empty. 

Experiments prove that Baryta (as happens with most irritant poisons) 
has a double action, the one local and the other remote. The usual symp- 
toms are convulsions, excessive purging and vomiting, great thirst, dilated 
pupils, with frequent and excessive micturition and paralysis. The marked 


post-mortem appearances are persistent rigor mortis, distension of both 
sides of the heart with black blood, congestion of the lungs, liver, and kid- 
neys, congestion and extreme rottenness of the stomach, and sometimes of 
the whole intestines, but invariably intense inflammation of the rectum. 

Testa for the Salts of the Metals of the Alkaline Earths. 

Note : There are certain properties that barium, strontium, and calcium 
salts have in common. 

1. Their sulphides and sulphydrates are all soluble; therefore, they 
are not precipitated by sulphuretted hydrogen, or by sulphide of am- 

2. Their oxalates, phosphates, and carbonates are insoluble in water. 
They can all therefore be precipitated by a soluble carbonate. 

3. They are all precipitated by sulphuric acid and the soluble sulphates. 
Sulphate of baryta is absolutely insoluble in water — sulphate of sfrotttia 
nearly insoluble in water, and sulphate of calcium, only soluble to the extent 
of 1 grain in 1 oz. of water. 

4. A white fixed residue is left when any of their salts are ignited. 

Tests for Barium and its Salts. 

1. Sulphuric acid and solutions of all sulphates give a white precipitate 

of sulphate of barium (BaS0 4 = 233) which is insoluble either in acids or 
alkalies. Always before testing acidulate the solution with nitric acid, or 
otherwise the white precipitate may be a carbonate, phosphate, or oxalate 
of barium. 

2. Heated on platinum wire in a colorless Bunseu flame or before the 
blowpipe, they impart a green color to the flame. 

3. In neutral and acid solutions, hydrofluosilicic acid gives a precipitate 
of fluosilicate of barium (BaSiF 6 ). The acids of the several salts must 
be recognized by their several reactions. 

Toxicological Analysis. 

Filter the contents of the stomach. 

(a) Filtered liquid. 

Add dilute sulphuric acid, boil and filter. Ignite the filter-paper so as 
to burn away the organic matter. Boil the residue with water, acidulated 
with sulphuric acid, and again filter and weigh. Every 100 grains indi- 
cate 65.66 of baryta. This indicates the quantity of soluble baryta salt 

(,5) Residue on filter. 

Boil with carbonate of soda, filter, and wash the residue with distilled 
water, acidulated with hydrochloric acid. Test the filtrate for baryta as 
in the preceding case. 

Cases of Poisoning by the Soils of Baryta. 


CASE 1.—" Lancet." February 26th, 1859, p. 211 (Mr. Walsh, Manchester). Female : Kt. 22. A tea- 
spoonful (about 5j» in water. 

Symptoms. — In half an hour severe pain, vomiting and purging set in. In one hour and a half 
muscular power of extremities almost goue, intelligence not impaired, respiration slow and labored. 
In eight hours symptoms seemed to abate, but returned with coma after fourteen hours. Convul- 
sions occurred two hours before death, and coutiuued without intermission until death. 

Result. — Death in seventeen hours. 


CASE 2.—" Ann. d'Hyg.," 1841, 2, 217. 3j taken in mistake for Glauher salt. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting, convulsion, headache, deafness. 

Result. — Death in one hour. 

CASE 3. — " Christison," p. 580 (Dr. Wnch). Female: adult. 5ss. by mistake for sulphate of soda. 

Symptoms. — Sickness, convulsions, loss of voice, faculties clear to the last. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach very inflamed externally and internally ; perforation nearthe cardiac end; 
small intestines inflamed ; large intestine contracted ; lungs and brain gorged. 

CASE 4— "Medical Times," March 28th, 1845, p. 508 (Dr. Ferguson, from the " Dublin Journal of 
Medical Science"). Female. One-twelfth grain three times a day (about two grains and a quarter 

Symptoms. — In a week extreme exhaustion came on, and severe nervous symptoms. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 5. — " Pharmaceutical Journal," June, 1872, p. 1021; " Medical Press and Circular " (Dr. Tidy 
and Mr. Kennedy). Male* set. 40. Considerable quantity given in mistake mixed with sulphur. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms immediate. Intense pain in stomach, loss of voice, vomiting, purging, con- 

Result. — Death in six hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Great congestion of the viscera. Of the intestines, only the duodenum and the 
Tectum ati'ected. 


CASE 6. — " Medical Gazette," vol. xiv, p. 448 (Dr. Wilson). Female. Half a teacup in water taken 

Symptoms. — In two hours weight at stomach, dimness of sight, pain in head, cramp in legs, vomit- 
ing, severe palpitations. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 7. — " Medical Times and Gazette," January 31st, 1874, p. 134. Male : ast. 40. A considerable 
Result.— Death. 

STRONTIUM (Sr. = 87.5 ; sp. gr. 2.5). 

The nitrate of strontium is largely used in firework manufacture. All 
the compounds are more or less poisonous. We are indebted for experi- 
ments with the strontium salts to Pelletier, Blumeubach, Gmelin, and 
Blake. A rabbit died from the effects of half an ounce of the chloride of 
strontium given internally, a smaller dose producing no effect. Two drachms 
of the carbonate and two of the nitrate given to rabbits, merely caused a 
slight diarrhoea. Ten grains of the chloride injected into the jugular vein 
of a dog produced no results, but forty grains arrested the heart's action 
in fifteen seconds. 


1. The Soluble Carbonates give white insoluble precipitates, soluble in 
hydrochloric acid, and in water containing carbonic acid. 

2. Dilute Sulphuric Acid and Soluble Sulphates give a white precipitate 
of sulphate of strontia (SrSG 4 ), insoluble in dilute acids. The precipitate 
being somewhat soluble in water, does not form immediately the test solu- 
tion is added. 

3. Strontium compounds when heated render the flame of a carmine 
red color. 

CALCIUM (Ca = 40; sp. gr. 1.6). 

One case of death from lime is recorded. A man was ordered by his 
physician to drink some lime-water. He thereupon procured a lump of 
lime, put it into water, stirred it up, and drank the thick liquid. Death 
occurred in a few hours (" Medical Times and Gazette," Feb. 4th, 1871, p. 
13). Lime is a caustic and irritant poison. In cases of poisoning the 


soluble sulphates should be administered. It should be remembered that 
lime is a natural constituent of various tissues. 

Testa for Salts of Lime. 

1. The Soluble Carbonates give white insoluble precipitates of calcium 
carbonate i CaCO,). 

'_'. Dilute Sulphuric Aeid gives, in concentrated solutions only, a white 
precipitate of sulphate of lime (CaSO^ slightly soluble in water. 

3. Oxalate of Ammonia gives a white precipitate of oxalate of lime 
(CaC/),), soluble in hydrochloric acid. The delicacy of this test is in- 
creased by the previous addition to the solution of a little free ammonia. 
A similar precipitate is produced with baryta and strontia. 

4. Lime compounds, heated in the inner blowpipe flame, give an orange- 
red color to the outer flame. Insoluble salts should be first moistened 
with hydrochloric acid before placing them in the flame. 



Astimoxy— Tartar Emetic; Properties, Symptoms, Treatment, etc. — Chronic 
Antimonial Poisoning — Experiments on Animals — Tests — Quantitative Esti- 
mation — Toxicological Analysis — Chloride of Antimony; Properties, etc. — 
Cases of Poisoning — Arsenicum, Arsenic — Preparation — Uses — Properties — 
Solubility — Symptoms, etc. — Treatment — Post-mortem Appearances — Chronic 
Arsenical Poisoning — Tests — Toxicological Analysis — Various Processes — Ar- 
senic Acid — Arseniteof Copper — Its Use for Wall Papers, etc — Tests — Orpi- 
ment — Realgar — Chloride of Arsenicum — Arseniuretted Hydrogen — Iodide of 
' Arsenicum — Bismuth — Cadmium — Cerium — Chromium — Bichromate of Potash 
— Chronic Poisoning — Cobalt — Copper — Red Oxide — Black Oxide — Sulphate — 
Sulphide — Nitrate — The Acetates — Symptoms — Experiments upon Animals — 
Chronic Copper Poisoning — Action of Water and of Articles of Food on 
Copper Vessels — Tests — Gold — Iridium mid Rhodium — Iron — Lend — Carbonate 
of Lead and other Salts — Symptoms — Action on Animals — Treatment- 
Chronic Lead Poisoning — Action of Water on Lead — Action of Acids on 
Lead — Post-mortem Appearances — Tests — Toxicological Analysis — Manganese 
— Mercury — Corrosive Sublimate — Symptoms — Treatment — Chronic Mercu- 
rial Poisoning — Experiments on Animals — Post-mortem Appearances — Tests 
— Toxicological Analysis— Calomel — White Precipitate — Red Precipitate — 
Turpeth Mineral — Vermilion — Nitrates — Cyanide and Sulphocyanide of Mer- 
cury — Mercuric Methide — Molybdenum — Nickel — Osmium — Palladium — Plati- 
num — Silver — Thallium — Tin — Titanium — Tungsten — Uranium — Zinc — Oxide 
— Carbonate — Chloride— Sulphide — Sulphate — Acetate — Symptoms, etc. — Ex- 
periments on Animals — Tests — Toxicological Analysis. 

ANTIMONY (Sb = 122). 
(Sp. gr. 6.71 ; fuses at 430° C.) 

Antimony is usually prepared from the gray antimony ore (black sul- 
phide). It is a bluish-white, very brittle, laminated, crystalline (rhombo- 
hedric) metal, not readily tarnishing in air, and, although volatile, nothing 
like so volatile as arsenic. 

The metal itself is said not to be poisonous, but all its compounds are. 


Tartar emetic and the chlorides are, toxicologically, the most important 
of its salts. 

Antimony is largely employed in various branches of industry. The 
metal used for type consists of one-fourth antimony, one-fourth tin, and 
the rest lead; the antimony being used from the circumstance that it ex- 
pands a little on cooling, so giving sharpness to the cast. A certain quan- 
tity is also added to pewter, Britannia metal, and the old Pocula Emetica. 
The autimonious oxide ground with linseed oil is used as a white paint, 
but is much inferior to lead. 

Antimony burns when heated to redness, giving off an oxide (SbX) 3 ). 
It catches fire when powdered and thrown into chlorine and bromine. 

Hydrochloric and sulphuric acids have no action upon it when cold, 
but they have when heated. It is oxidized by hot nitric acid, antimonic 
acid (Sb s 5 ) being formed. It is freely soluble in nitro-hydiochlorie acid. 

The salts of antimony are generally white, and are without taste. They 
are not usually decomposed by heat. They are mostly either insoluble or 
of difficult solubility in water, but their solubility is increased when organic 
substances are present. They are generally soluble in hydrochloric acid, 
but precipitation occurs if the solution be poured into water. 

It should be noted that both the metal and its salts usually contain 
small but notable traces of arsenic. 

Compounds of Antimony. 

Antimony and Oxygen. 

Ant'imonious'Oxide, Sb„O s = 292 

Antimonic Oxide or Antimony Peroxide, . Sb 2 5 = 324 

Antimony and Chlorine. 

Antimonious .Sulphide Sb 2 S 3 = 340 

Antimonic Sulphide (Gold Sulphur), . . Sb,S 5 = 404 

Antimony and Sulphur. 

Antimonious Chloride, .... SbCl 3 = 228.5 
Antimonic Chloride, SbCl 5 = 299.5 

Antimony and Hydrogen. 

Antimoniuretted Hvdrogen, . . . SbH 3 = 125 

Potassio-tartrate of Antimony, . 2[K(SbO)C 4 H 4 6 ]H,0 = 608 

Tartar Emetic or Potastio-tartrate of Antimony. 
2[K(SbO)C 1 H 4 6 ]H a O. 

(Stibiated Tartar, Tartrate of Antimony and Potash, Tartarized 
Antimony. ) 

This is a salt of tartaric acid in combination with potassium and anti- 
mony. It is found in commerce either as a white amorphous powder, or 
in yellowish-white crystalline masses, having a metallic taste and a faintly 
acid reaction when dissolved. The crystals are octahedral, somewhat 
efflorescent, and turn orange-red when touched with sulphide of am- 

Tartar emetic is soluble in twelve to fourteen parts of water at ordinary 
temperatures, and in about three parts when boiling. The solution easily 
decomposes, and even when very dilute, growths of a filamentous nature 
will be developed in it after standing a short time. It is insoluble in 
alcohol. If spirit be added to an aqueous solution of even extreme 


dilution, it precipitates the salt in the form of plumose crystals. When 
heated in a reduction-tube it turns black, the residual mass consisting of 
the metal and carbon. According to Taylor, the heat of the spirit-lamp 
is insufficient to effect its sublimation. Mixed with carbonate of sodium, 
and heated on charcoal with the blowpipe, globules of the metal will be 
formed, and may be recoguized by their extreme brittleness, and by their 
having a white incrustation around them ; but both the metal and the in- 
crustation disappear if the heat be sufficiently intense and long continued. 
Lastly, note, as we have said, that tartar emetic often contains a trace 
of arsenic. 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

In the act of swallowing the poison, the patient complains of an in- 
tensely metallic taste. In a short time pain, specially in the region of the 
stomach, and, more or less, over the whole abdomen, comes ou. There is 
usually intense thirst, but drinking is an effort, owing to a feeling of con- 
striction in the throat. Incessant and violent vomiting, with continuous 
purging, are usually early and likewise hopeful symptoms. If they are 
absent (as they sometimes are), the case is then more desperate. Intense 
cardiac depression is a prominent symptom. The pulse may be so feeble 
that it can scarcely be felt, the skiu clammy and cold, the respiration 
laborious, and the urine, though increased in quantity, passed with pain. 
Cramps in the extremities, convulsions and spasms of a tetanic nature, 
often precede death, which results generally from collapse by the depress- 
ing action of the poison on the heart. For this reason antimonv should 
not be administered, even medicinally, to old people. The salts of anti- 
mony, and especially tartar emetic, are apt to affect the salivarv glands. 
Magendie salivated dogs with tartar emetic, and Dr. Samuel Wright has 
seen an active ptyalism induced by James's powder. (" Lancet," Sep- 
tember 10th, 1842, p. 807.) In some cases insensibility has been an early 
symptom, and, at a later period, a peculiar pustular eruption has been 
noticed on the skin and throat. Such eruptions are not uncommon even 
when ointments containing antimony have been applied externally. 

The quantity necessary to cause death varies greatly. Recovery is re- 
corded, on several occasions, after half an ouuce, whilst li grain has 
proved fatal. Its external application on a plaster, and as an ointment 
to the spine, has also caused death. The variable results produced by 
large and small doses may be explained in two ways: (1st. I If vomiting 
and purging are early symptoms, all or nearly all, the poison may be got 
rid of. Hence the reason why vomiting and purging render the case hope- 
ful. (2dly.) Peculiar idiosyncrasies. Children can take large doses better 
than adults. The ordinary effects of antimony, moreover, are not noticed 
when it is administered in certain diseases, such as in croup and inflam- 
mation of the lungs, when even two grains may be given at short intervals 
without bad effects being produced. 

In one case death occurred in seven hours. This is the shortest time on 
record. Iu other cases it has been delayed for one, two, and four days, 
and even for two and more weeks. 


If vomiting is not present, it must be immediately induced by draughts 
of warm water, or by hot milk, or by tickling the throat ; and if these 
fail, the stomach-pump should be used without delay. 

Tincture of cinchona bark, or any liquids containing tannin, such as 
strong tea, nutgalls, or decoction of oak bark, are the proper antidotes. 


When the stomach is rid of the poisou, strong coffee may be given, and 
opium to allay the vomiting ; whilst bloodletting, as an antiphlogistic, may 
be indicated. Opiates are often useful in this stage. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

The tongue is usually covered with a white fur. Congestion of the dura 
mater, effusion between the arachnoid and pia mater, injection of the ves- 
sels on the surface of the brain, with congestion of the brain itself, are 
commonly found. The lungs are frequently of a very deep color. The 
stomach and first part of the intestines are generally very inflamed and 
empty. No case of perforation is recorded, but the stomach in one case 
appeared as if ulcerated. Both stomach and bowels are generally covered 
with a thick, viscid coating of slimy mucus. The blood is usually black 
and fluid. 

Chronic Antimonial Poisoning: Experiments on Animals. 

On more than one occasion death has been caused criminally by the 
administration of small doses of antimony at intervals to healthy persons. 
Nausea and vomiting, with extreme depression, accompanied either by 
constipation or by a watery purging, death at last resulting from exhaus- 
tion, are the prominent symptoms. 

Our knowledge of chronic antimonial poisoning is derived from the 
experiments of several investigators; amongst others, Dr. Nevius ("Liver- 
pool Medico-Chirurgical Journal," No. 1), Orfila, Richardson, and the 
Messrs. Miller and Lavran ("Ann. d'Hygiene," vol. xxxvi, p. 221). The 
results of Dr. Nevins's observations we have taken from the abstract in 
Guy's " Manual." His experiments were conducted on eleven rabbits, to 
which doses of 0.5 gr., 1.0 gr., and 2.0 grs., were given four times daily. 
The weakest rabbit died after taking 12, the strongest after taking 72 
grains. One died after four, and another after seventeen days. One was 
killed thirty-one days after it had taken the last dose of the poison, one in 
fourteen days, and three in one, three, and four days respectively. 

The general symptoms noted were emaciation and great loss of appetite. 
None of them vomited, and in only three cases out of eight was there any 
diarrhoea; four out of the five had convulsions; and one aborted. 

Antimony was found, in every case, in large quantity in the liver, and 
in smaller quantities in the spleen and stomach. It was found in the kid- 
neys in those animals that survived for some time. It was found in the 
lungs, and, in those that had lived for fifteen days, in the bones. It was 
also found in the urine after the animals had taken the twelfth dose ; and, 
lastly, it was found in the foetal rabbit in the case where abortion occurred. 

The appearances after death were in each case great congestion of the 
liver and inflammation of the mucous membrane of the stomach. In two 
cases ulceration was observed. The inflammation extended in some cases 
into the small intestines, the solitary glands being often enlarged and cov- 
ered with a yellowish deposit, which, on analysis, was found to contain 
antimony. The colon and rectum were generally healthy, the kidneys 
somewhat congested, and the lungs very much so. The brain, heart, and 
spleen were usually normal. 

It was long ago proved that large doses of antimony might be given to 
dogs, and that little effect was produced, provided free vomiting occurred ; 
but that if the gullet was tied, to prevent vomiting, a very few grains 
would prove fatal. If injected into the veins, a very small quantity 
induced vomiting and purging, with inflammation of the lungs and ali- 


mentary canal. And thus Dr. Nevina concludes that tartar emetic is a 
deadly poison when repeated in small doses for a sufficient length of time, 
but that the total quantity necessary to cause death, and the leugth of 
time required, vary considerably in different cases: that there is a general 
similarity in the symptoms and morbid appearances produced, but by no 
means absolute uniformity: that the poison permeates all the tissues of 
the bodv, and even those of the unborn offspring, if its administration be 
continued long enough, whilst at the same time it is constantly being 
eliminated by the kidneys and bowels ; and, lastly, that the fatal effects 
are often disproportionate to the apparent changes found after death. 

As regards the detection of antimouy, Orfila records in his " Traite de 
Toxicologic " the following facts : 

1. That he found antimony in the fat, liver, and bones of a dog that 
had taken, three months and a half before its death, 46.5 grains of tartar 
emetic during the course often days. No antimouy had been taken after- 

2. That similar results were obtained in a second case in which the 
interval was four months. 

3. Tartar emetic was administered to a bitch for a period of five days, 
fifteen days before she littered. The pups were born at full time. Both 
the pups aud the mother were then killed, and antimony, on analysis, was 
found in them all. 

Dr. Richardson's experiments ("Lancet," May 10th, 1856) are im- 
portant. A dog died in 1 hour and 40 minutes after a drachm of tartar 
emetic in solution had been injected into the cellular tissue. The symp- 
toms did not set in for thirty minutes. After death, both sides of the heart 
were found to be distended ; the lungs dark, and full of blood, but not 
inflamed ; the bladder empty, aud the blood generally fluid. The mucous 
membrane of the stomach was bright pink. The antimony was found in 
the following parts, beginning with that part where the largest quantity 
was discovered: blood, vomit, rectum, lungs, liver, stomach, bladder, kid- 
neys, and small intestines. 

In a second experiment, made with antimoniuretted hydrogen, a dog 
was placed in a glass chamber capable of holding 3000 cubic inches of 
air ; 100 cubic iuches of the gas was admitted every twenty minutes, and 
at the end of 3 hours and 50 miuutes the dog died. No symptoms set in 
for 1 hour and 40 miuutes, when purging occurred, and, in ten minutes 
afterwards, vjmiting. Extreme prostration, however, was the prominent 

In the post-mortem all the viscera were found congested ; the blood 
loosely coagulated; the lungs inflated and full of blood, but not specially 

In a third experiment, a wound in a dog's neck was dressed every morn- 
ing with tartar-emetic ointment. The dog died in seven davs. There was 
no purging or vomiting, but the animal refused food, and died exhausted, 
as if from inanition. 

The blood was fluid, the stomach red internally, and the heart full on 
both sides. No antimony was found in the brain, but it was found in 
larger quantities both in the liver aud in the spleen than in the other 


It will be noticed that the following are the tests for antimony, but that 
only a few are tests for autimouy in the form of tartar emetic. In a so- 


lution of tartar emetic, after the antimony has been thrown down with 
sulphuretted hydrogeu, and filtered off, the cream of tartar (KHC 4 H 4 6 ) 
may be obtained by evaporating the filtrate to dryness. 

1. A drop of the solution of tartar emetic evaporated to dryness, yields 
tetrahedral crystals of the salt. 

2. The solution has a metallic taste and an acid reaction. It is decom- 
posed by keeping. 

3. No precipitate is produced with ferrocyanide of potassium ; and thus 
it is known from most other metallic poisons. 

4. Sulphuretted hydrogen gives, with a solution rendered acid by tartaric 
acid, or by a mere drop of hydrochloric acid, the characteristic orange-red 
precipitate of antimonious sulphide (Sb. 2 S 3 ), the depth of color being some- 
what dependent on the quantity of antimony present. 

This precipitate is to be collected and well washed. 

Note the following properties and reactions of the precipitate (Sb,S 3 ) : 

(a) It is not soluble in ammonia. 

(b) It is soluble in strong solutions of caustic potash. 

(c) It is soluble in strong hydrochloric acid, sulphuretted hydrogen 

being given of, which may be known by its smell and by black- 
ening lead-paper. Chloride of antimony (SbCl 3 ) will be found 
in solution. 

(d) The hydrochloric acid solution of the chloride (c) poured into 

water gives a white precipitate of oxychloride of antimouy, 
which is soluble in tartaric acid. 

(e) The precipitated sulphide (Sb.,S 3 ) is soluble in sulphide of ammo- 

nium, but is reprecipitated of an orange-red color when an acid 
is added. 

5. Reinsch's Test. (For general directions in performing the experiment, 
see " Arsenic") 

Make the experiment as follows : 

The antimonial solution is to be boiled with one-fourth its bulk of pure 
hydrochloric acid, together with a small piece of pure, well-cleaned cupper- 
foil. If antimony be present in large quantity, the copper will have a black 
deposit of the metal thrown down upon it, but if it exists only in small 
quantify, the deposit will then appear of a violet-red color. 

The copper-foil is to be removed, washed, dried, and treated as follows : 

{a) Heat the copper-foil in a reduction-tube, ^vhen an amorphous sub- 
limate will be produced, close to the heated end of the tube. 
(No sublimate is produced except with the three metals, anti- 
mony, arsenic, and mercury ; but the sublimate of antimony is 
amorphous, of arsenic octahedral, and of mercury globular.) 

(,?) Or boil the copper-foil in a solution of caustic potash, exposing it 
every now and then to the air in order to oxidize it. In a short 
time the antimony will be dissolved, and an antimoniate of 
potash formed. Acidulate this solution with hydrochloric acid, 
and pass sulphuretted hydrogen through it, when an orange-red 
precipitate will be produced, which is to be tested as before di- 

(y) Or boil the copper-foil in a weak, feebly alkaline solution of per- 
manganate of potash. The antimonial coating will be dissolved, 
the permanganate losing its color, and manganic hydrate pre- 
cipitated. Filter the solution, treat the filtrate with a few drops 


of hydrochloric acid, and pass sulphuretted hydrogen. through 
it. (Odling.) 

ii. Marsh's Test (For general directions see " Arsenic") 
Antimoniuretted hydrogen (SbH s ) is set free by the action of dilute 

sulphuric acid on zinc in the presence of antimony. For combination to 

take place the gas must be nascent. 

fa) The gas produces a black stain if allowed to play on a piece of 

paper moistened with nitrate of silver (antimonide of silver). 
(/S) Pass the gas through a solution of nitrate of silver, when a black 
precipitate of antimonide of silver will be thrown down. (In 
the case of arsenic, a black precipitate is also thrown down, but 
this precipitate consists merelv of metallic silver. | Collect the 
precipitate, wash, and boil for some time in a solution of tar- 
taric acid, filter, and treat the filtrate with sulphuretted hydro- 
gen, when an orange-red precipitate (Sb,S,) will be obtained. 
(y) The gas (ShH.) burns with a pale bluish-white flame, giving off 

white fumes of antimonious oxide (Sb < » . 
(8) A piece of white porcelain held in the flame is soon coated with 
a black deposit of metallic antimony. 

Note the following properties and reactions of this metallic deposit: 

(1) The absence of metallic lustre. It is sootlike in appearance. 

_ Its difficult volatilization. 

•'!) Its insolubility in a solution of chloride of lime. 

(4) Its solubility in sulphide of ammonium, which, on evaporation 

to dryness, leaves a bright orange stain, soluble in hydrochlo- 
ric acid, and insoluble in ammonia. 

(X. B. The arsria'nif deposit is brilliantly metallic, vola- 
tilizes with a slight heat, is soluble in a solution of chloride 
of lime, and in sulphide of ammonium; this latter, on evapo- 
ration, leaving a yellow stain insoluble in hydrochloric acid, 
but soluble in ammonia.) 

(5) Treat the antimonial stain with nitro-muriatic acid, and evapo- 

rate to dryness. The residue does not give a red precipitate 
with a solution of nitrate of silver as happens with an ar- 
senical stain, 
(e) Heat the tube conveying the antimoniuretted hydrogen with a 
spirit-lamp, when a ring of metallic antimony will be found 
near and on both sides of the flame by reason of its slight 
volatility. (See Fig. under Arsenic. 

Note respecting this antimonial stain — 

(1) The antimonial stain is difficult to sublime, whilst the arsenical 

stain sublimes with ease. 

(2) No white octahedral sublimate can be formed, as with arsenic. 

(3) The metallic deposit of antimony dissolves easily in sulphide 

of ammonium, leaving an orange stain on evaporation. 

7. Acidulate the antimonial solution with about one-tenth its bulk of 
hydrochloric acid ; suspend in the cold mixture a piece of tin-foil, when, 
either immediately or in the course of some time, a black deposit of the 
metal will be thrown down on the tin. This does not occur with arsenic. 

8. Place a few drops of the solution of antimony, acidulated with hy- 


drochlovic acid, iu a shallow platinum capsule. Touch the platinum, 
through the liquid, with a piece of ziuc, wheu metallic antimony will be 
deposited, and adhere to the platinum. Wash the stain, and dissolve it 
in warm nitric acid. Evaporate this solution to dryness, aud touch with 
sulphide of ammonium ; or else pour a little sulphide of ammonium upon 
the stain, which readily dissolves it, aud evaporate to dryness, when an 
orangt-red precipitate i Sh,S :l t will be formed. (This testis applicable in 
the examination of organic liquids, for copper, antimony, etc.) 

9. Action, of Acids mi Solutions of Tartar Emetic. 

Dilute Nitric Acid gives a white precipitate of subnitrate of antimony, 
which is soluble in a solution of tartaric acid, and in excess of ammonia. 
The precipitate turns orange-red when treated with sulphide of ammonium. 

Hydrochloric Acid gives a white precipitate in concentrated solutions, 
which is both soluble in excess, and in a solution of tartaric acid. A 
similar white precipitate is also produced with lead, silver, and mercury 
salts, but the antimony precipitate may be known by its turning orange- 
red with sulphide of ammonium. 

Sulphuric Acid gives a white precipitate, soluble in excess of the acid, 
or in a solution of tartaric acid. 

10. Potash, Soda, ami Ammonia give white precipitates in concentrated 
solutions, soluble in excess of the precipitant. 

11. Mercuric Chloride gives a white precipitate. 

12. Infusion of Nutgalls gives a dirty yellowish-white precipitate. 

13. Acetate of Lead gives a white amorphous precipitate, soluble in 
acetic and tartaric acid. 

Quantitative Analysis. 

Convert the antimonial compound into a chloride by boiling with nitro- 
muriatic acid. Filter, dilute with water until a slight cloudiness begins to 
appear. Then pass sulphuretted hydrogen through the solution, boil to 
expel excess, dry- the precipitate, and weigh. 

100 grs. of Sb 2 S 3 = 85.88 of Antimouious Oxide, Sb 2 3 . 
= 196.47 of Tartar Emetic. 
= 71.76 of Metallic Antimony. 
= 134.41 of Antimouious Chloride, SbCl 3 . 

Toxicological A nalysis. 

The antimony may exist in organic mixtures both in a soluble and in- 
soluble form. Tannic acid renders the poison insoluble, but the antimo- 
nial salts are not affected by albuminous liquids. 

The stomach aud its contents are to be diluted with water acidulated 
with a few drops of hydrochloric acid, and with some tartaric acid, and 
set aside for a short time in a warm place. Afterwards strain and filter 
the liquid. Pass sulphuretted hydrogen through the filtrate, aud let it 
stand for the precipitate to subside. Collect, wash, and dry the precipi- 
tated sulphide. The color of the precipitate, which should be orange-red, 
may be more or less brown from admixture with orgauic matters. 

Note the following reactions of the precipitate : 

1. It is insoluble in ammonia. 

'1. Add to it a little strong hydrochloric acid, and dissolve by heat. 
Sulphuretted hydrogen is evolved, aud a chloride of antimony is left in 


3. Test this acid liquid as follows : 

(«) Pour a little into water, when the white oxyehloride will be pre- 
(b) Test by "Marsh's Test," and by other tests. 

In the examination of the Tissues. 

1. Cut the tissues up into very small pieces, and boil them in a flask in 
a mixture of four parts of water and one part of hydrochloric acid for 
about a quarter of an hour. Filter. 

Test the filtrate by Reinsch's process with copper-foil (see tests as before). 

2. Or they may be treated by the process of Fresenius and Von Babo ; 
viz., by destroying the organic matter with chlorate of potash and hydro- 
chloric acid (.vet Arsenic). 

Always, if possible, examine the urine. This is most important, as the 
elimination of antimony by the kidneys is rapid. 

Dr. Taylor recommends, when the quantity present is very small, to 
suspend in the weak acid solution a coil of pure zinc-foil wound round a 
piece of platinum-foil, when metallic antimony will, if present, be found 
deposited on the platinum. Care must be taken that the acid is not pres- 
ent in sufficient quantity to dissolve the zinc. The deposit on the platinum 
may be treated as follows: 

(o) "Wash and digest in strong nitric acid until the deposit is dissolved, 
and evaporate to dryness. Dissolve the residue in hydrochloric 
acid, and treat the solution with sulphuretted hydrogen. 

(6) Or dissolve the residue in sulphide of ammonium, evaporate to 
dryness, and so obtain the orange-red precipitate. 

Lastly, it must be remembered antimony is often used as a medicine. 
It is necessary, therefore, that the quantity present should be estimated, 
and should be above a mere medicinal dose, so as to make certain it was 
given or taken as a poison. 

Chloride of Antimony (SbCl 3 = 228.5). 
(Butter of Antimony.) 

This is a very corrosive fuming liquid, and is often dark-colored or of a 
yellow tint, from its containing chloride of iron. It is sometimes given to 
horses, to make them look sleek. 

The symptoms produced by it set in rapidly, and are usually violent. 
Death has occurred in ten hours after two or three ounces. In this case 
narcotic symptoms are reported to have occurred. 

In the post-mortem appearance* we are told in the case above referred to 
that the stomach and intestines appeared as if charred, the mucous mem- 
brane being entirely destroyed. All this shows that chloride of antimony 
is an exceedingly active poison. 

The treatment, etc., must be the same as for tartar emetic. 


In the analysis, in addition to what has been already said, specially 
note — 

1. That if the chloride of antimony be added to water, a yellowish-white 
precipitate of oxyehloride of antimony is thrown down. 

2. That this white precipitate is soluble in tartaric acid. 

3. That if the precipitate be mixed with carbonate of sodium and heated 


on a piece of charcoal with the blowpipe, metallic antimony will be ob- 

4. That the solution of the white precipitate in tartaric acid is thrown 
down as an orange-red precipitate when treated with sulphuretted hy- 

5. That after the precipitation by the addition of water, the clear liquid, 
if tested with nitrate of silver, will be found to contain hydrochloric acid. 

[Xote here that a white precipitate is also produced when the bismuth 
salt is added to water, but that sulphuretted hydrogen gives a black pre- 
cipitate with bismuth, whilst it gives an orange-red precipitate with anti- 

For recovery from organic mixtures and for further tests (vide as before). 

Cases of Poisoning by Antimony. 


CASE 1.— Orfila's " Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 623. Male : ast. 50. Thirty-seven grains. 

(Symptom*.— Vomiting, purging, convulsions. 

Result.— Death in four days. 

CASE 2.— Beck's "Medical Jurisprudence." Child. Fifteen grains. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and purging; convulsions. 

Result.— Death iu a few weeks. 

CASE 3.—" Medical Gazette," vol. 45, p. 801 (Dr. Pollock). Male: ast. 30. 3j. 

Symptoms. — Early and violent vomiting; no convulsions. 

Result.— Death in ten hours. 

CASE 4.—-' Lancet," May 2_'d, 1847, p. 535 (Mr. Frere). Male : aet. 2S. 5ij. 

Symptoms. — In one hour spasmodic contraction of muscles; vomited once; watery purging. 
(Emetics given.) 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 5. — " American Journal of Medical Science," January 7th, 1S53, p. 131. Adult. Sss. taken 
by mistake for sulphate of soda. * 

Symptoms — Vomiting in half an hour. (Green tea and tannin administered.) 

Result. — Recovery after several days. 

CASE 6.— Dr. Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 309, vol. i. Male: adult. Two hundred grains. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in fifteen minutes; severe cramps iu three hours; suppression of urine. 

j:^"U— Recovery. 

CASE 7.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 309 (Dr. Proctor). Four children. sj of sulphur, 
and 5j of tartar emetic between the four. 

.^ymj^oms.— Early vomiting and cramps ; no difficulty in swallowing, or constriction of throat. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE S.— " Laocet," January 21st, 1854 (Dr. Beale). Female : jet. 16. Forty to sixty grains. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and purging iu fifteen minutes: a period occurred after a few hours when 
she seemed belter, but a relapse followed. Delirium ; dilated pupils. 

Result. — Death in thirty-sis hours. 

Pusl-mortem.— Lungs slightly congested; no infiammation iu stomach or intestines. 

CASE 9.— "Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery" (America), 1S48, p. 23 (Dr. Gleaves). Male: 
adult. 3ss. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting for one hour and a half, when the vomit merely consisted of the matters 
taken to induce vomiting; purging iu two hours. 

Result. — Recovery iu two weeks. 

CASE 10.— "Boston Medical and Surgical Journal," December, 1856, p. 400. Female: set. 21. Dose? 

St/mptoms. — Vomitiugaud purging; no convulsions. 

Result.— Death iu seven hours. 

CASE 11.—" Medical Times and Gazjtte," March 23th, 1S57. Female. Gr. iss. c gr. XT of ipecacu- 
anha given five days after confinement. 

Symptoms.— Vomiting, purging. 

Result— Death. 

CASK 12.— " Lancet," May 19th, 1838, p. 220 (Orfila). Male: adult. 3j. 

Symptoms. — Pain, vomiting, and diarrba-a ; distressing cramps. 

CASE 13.— " Lancet," May 19th, 1S38, p. 2-50 (M. Recamier). Male: adult. Forty grains. 

Symp!oms. — Vomiting; purging; convulsions. 


CASK 14.— "Lancet." May 19th, 1838, p. 2-50. Female: set 20. A plaster sprinkled with 3ss. of 
tartar emetic applied to the epigastrium after the application of leeches. 

Symptoms, — Aphtha; in mouth. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE ISL— M Lancet," May 19th, 1S3S, p. 250. JEt. 2. Spine rubbed with tartar emetic ointment. 

Symf-toms. — Sickness. 

Remit — Death in forty-eight hours. 

CASE 16.— " Lancet." April 12th. 1*.56. p. 400 (Dr. B.W.Richardson). Male. About three grains was 
dropped into the medicine bottle and not well mixed; taken at a dose. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms veiy severe, and nearly fatal. The man suffered from acute inflammatory 

Result. — Reco ve ry. 

CASE 17.—" Lancet," April 12th, 1856, p. 400 (Dr. B. W. Richardson). Male; adult. 15Tl\ of an- 
timony wine. 

toau. — Nausea incessant ; prostration great; no purging. 

Rrswt. — Recorery. 

CASE 18.—" Medical Times and Gazette." October 6th. lS66.p. 379 (Dr. Gabb). Male: set. 40. Three 
teaspoonfuls of tartar emetic = 3ij at least. He to«.k some rioegar shortly after. 

Synqtfijms. — No vomiting for more tban an hour, when sickness and purging came on. In four 
hours violent -ramps in the legs werecomplained of, but no pain at the stomach. He got better for a 
time, but had a relapse and died. 

Result.— Death in forty hours. 

CASE 19.— "Lancet," April 25th, 1840, p. 460 (Mr. Hartley). Male: a?t. five. Female: aet. three. 
Each had a powder containing ten grains of tartar emetic. 

Symptom*. — In twenty minutes both children bad vomiting and purging, with tetanic spasms. 
The boy died in eight hours, the girl in twelve or thirteen hours. 

Result. — Death iu eight and in twelve hours. 

Post- nwrte >i> on girl. — Lungs somewhat congested ; liver healthy; peritoneal coat of intestines in- 
flamed; duodenum inflamed ; mucous membrane of stomach much inflamed; brain very congested. 

Post-mortem on boy. — Similar. Spots on stomach, as if ulcerated; and a scarlatinal eruption on 
the arms, legs, and neck. 


CASE 20. — Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 315. Male: \x\. 12. 5iv-5v taken in mistake for 
ginger beer. 

Symptom*. — Vomiting in two hours. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 21.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 315 (Mr. Mann). Male: adult. Sij-Siij. 

ptvms. — Great pain; incessant attempts to vomit and to evacuate the bowels. After some 
hours there was a great desire to sleep. 

Result. — Death in leu hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — The whole alimentary tract appeared black, as if charred. The mucous membrane 
was entirely destroyed. 

CASE 22.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 316 (Mr. Evans). Male: adult. 5iij of bronzing 
liquid = solution of sl>, CL 

Symptoms. — Pain, vomiting; no purging. 

Result. — Death iu eighteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Intense inflammatory action in stomach ; no perforation ; putty-like masses, which 
contained antimony found iu stomach. 

CASE 23.— "Lancet," December 4th, 1841, p. 324 Mr. Houghton. Male : set. 10. A tablespoon ful. 

Symptvms — Immediate choking and burning pain. Recovered in two days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 24.— " Lancet," February 26th, 1S48, p. 230 (Mr. Weeden Cooke). Male: set. 41. 3j of chlo- 
ride of auiimouy. 

Symptom**. — Immediate burning sensation; insensibility; pulse very small; apparently conaplete 
collapse. Recovered in a (ew days. 

Result.— Reco ve ry . 

CASE 25.—" Medical Times and Gazette," October 23d, 1S64, p. 44S Dr. Crisp). Female : at. 19. Siij. 

Symptoms. — Great pain ; thirst: vomiting; diarrhoea; no urine passed; the mind remained clear ; 
lips and mouth black and excoriated. 

Result. — Death in twenty-four hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach appeared uniformly covered with antimony. When this was removed, the 
mucous membrane appeared black and charred. Part of the small intestines also affected. 

See the following Cases of Antimonial Poisoning. 

" Medical Times and Gazette," vol. ii, 1S60, pp. 12, 190, 213, and 271. (Suspected deaths at Yeovil 
and Liverpool.; 
" Medical Times," March 22d, 1S41, p. 306. (Tartar emetic.) 


" Medical Times," January 17th and February 7th, 1846, pp. 322 and 3S1. Death of boy and girl. 

" Medical Times," June 24th, 1843, p. 127 (a tablespoonful of tarlar emetic). Recovery ; symptoms 
severe; pustular eruption. 

" Medical Times," March 16th, 1844. (Ten grains Dover's powder.) Death in twenty hours of a 
child seven weeks old. 

" Medical Times and Gazette," April 4th, 1868, p. 3S4. Death from a dose of antimony, taken in a 
seidlitz powder by a drunken woman to produce " quietness." 

" Medical Gazette," vol. 44, p. 334. 

"Association Medical Journal," June 10th, 1853, p. 513. 

" Guy's Hospital Reports," October, 1S57 (Dr. Taylor). 

" Lancet," August 30th, 1856, p. 259 (Regina v. McMullen). Antimony given as a cure for drunk- 

"Medical Times and Gazette," August 25th, and September 15th and 29th, 1860. 

" American Journal of Medical Science," January, 1853, p 131. 


(Symb. As. At. \vt. 75 ; sp. gr. : solid, 5.97 ; vapor, 10.6 ; volatilizes at 
180 3 "C. (356° F.).) 
It is prepared either 

(1) By subliming the metal from some ore which contains it in an un- 
combiued state ; or 

(2) By subliming the arsenical sulphide of iron (FeAsS) (Mispickel), 
obtained chiefly from Silesian mines, the arsenicum being given off as 
white arsenic (As s 3 ). 

Arsenicum is a brittle steel-gray metal, has a brilliantly metallic lustre, 
and is far more volatile than antimony. The vapor has a peculiar garlic- 
like odor. The metal is a conductor of electricity. In making small shot 
it is mixed with lead in order to facilitate its assuming a globular form. 
When powdered and thrown into chlorine it catches fire. It easily com- 
bines with bromine, iodine, aud sulphur when heated with them. It is 
readily oxidized either by hot sulphuric or nitric acids, hydrochloric acid 
having but little or no action upon it. It is soluble in a solution of bleach- 
ing powder. Heated in air it is converted into arsenious anhydride 

(AsA). . 

Metallic arsenic acts as a powerful* poison, although it is doubtful 
whether it does so until it becomes converted into arsenious acid. It is, 
however, a question of no great practical importance, as the process of 
oxidation in the body is rapid. 

Compounds with Oxygen. 

1. Arsenious Anhydride (white arsenic ; arsenious acid), . As 2 O s 

(Salts are called Arsenites.) 

2. Arsenic Anhydride, As 2 5 

Compounds with Sulphur. 

1. "Sulphide of Arsenic. Realgar. Color, ruby red, . . As.,S. ; 

2. " Orpiment. Color, bright yellow, . As.,S 3 

3. " Color, " . . As" 2 S 5 

Compound witli Chlorine. 
1. Chloride of Arsenicum, ....... AsCl 3 

Compound with Iodine. 
1. Iodide of Arsenicum, ....... Asl 3 

* " Fly powder " consists of a mixture of arsenious acid and metallic arsenic. 


Compound with Hydrogen. 
1. Arseniuretted Hydrogen AsH 3 

It also enters into other combinations. 

We shall now examine arsenious acid in detail, and as we proceed, the 
reactions, etc., of the other compounds of arsenicum will suggest them- 
selves. Arsenious acid has been known for a long time as an active drug, 
and constituted the poisonous ingredient of the "Aqua Totfana" of the 
sixteenth century. 

The cases of poisoning by arsenic have much diminished of late, owing 
to the act of 1851 i 14 Vict., cap. xiii, see. 3), which not only restricts its 
sale, but requires that when sold retail and in small quantity, it should be 
mixed with soot or indigo. 

Arsenious Anhydride (As 2 3 = 198). 

(Arsenic; White Arsenic ; Arsenious Acid ; Ratsbane.) 

(Sp. gr. of opaque form 3.65, of the transparent 3.75; sp. gr. of vapor 
13.8; sublimes at 137.6° C.) 
It is prepared either 

(1) During the roasting of arsenical ores in a current of air; or 

(2) By heating metallic arsenic in the presence of air. 

Its uses are numerous. It was formerly put into caudles to harden 
them, and to. give them a waxlike appearance. (Corpse candles.) Ex- 
tremely dangerous effects were produced by the slow volatilization of the 
arsenic whilst the candles were burning. We may remark here that the 
arsenic may easily be detected in candles by boiling the fatty matter in 
water, and removing the fat en masse when the water is cold. The arsenic 
will then be found in solution. The arseuite of copper is occasionally used 
for coloring green tapers, although, as a rule, verdigris is employed for 
this purpose. The authors have found the arseuite in these tapers on 
several occasions, in one case as much as was equal to 1 per cent, of arseni- 
ous acid being present. 

Wheat is often steeped in an arsenical solution, and this has been a cause 
of accidental poisoning, both to men and animals ("Lancet," March 9th, 
1850, p. 312). An arsenical solution is also used by shepherds as a sheep- 
wash. Bad effects have been produced on those engaged in washing the 
sheep with it ("Lancet," September 12th, 1857, p. 281), whilst on more 
than one occasion accidents have resulted from wine being put into a 
bottle that had been used for the wash without its having been previously 
cleansed (" Lancet," October 18th, 1856, p. 447 ). 

Arsenic is also used in glass-making and in white enamelling. It is 
used by grooms for horses from some fancied belief that it renders their 
coats sleek. It forms a constituent of many of the vermin-killers and rat- 
pastes. Its use as a rat-paste has more than once proved serious in places 
supplied with water by wells. The poisoned rat, tormented by thirst, 
rushes to the well to allay it, and is drowned or dies there, and at the same 
time contaminates the water with the poison. "Simpson's Rat-Paste" is 
a compound of starch, smalt, and arsenious acid (40 per cent.), scented 
with oil of rhodium (Herapath). ( Vide fatal case, " British Medical 
Journal," May 6th, 1865, p. 473.) 

Arsenic is also used in stuffing animals, and in preparing specimens, on 
account of its preservative power. A case is recorded of well-marked 



arsenical symptoms being produced by merely keeping birds that had been 
stuffed with an arsenical preparation in a room. (_" Lancet," April 23d, 
1853, p. 397.) 

Some quack pills also contain it (Reg. t>. Bone, Hertford Assizes, 1874). 

Physical Properties. 

It exists in two forms. (1) A vitreous form, which is transparent and 
colorless when first made, but becomes yellowish, white, opaque, and some- 
what like porcelain after exposure to air. Some doubt exists as to the 
true cause of this change. (2) A crystalline form (octahedra), which ar- 
senic assumes when it is carefully sublimed in small quantities, or crystal- 
lized out from a hydrochloric acid solution. 

It is very nearly, if not entirely, destitute of both taste and smell. The 
opaque variety has a lower specific gravity than the transparent. Heat 
converts the opaque form into the vitreous, whilst mere grinding in a mor- 
tar converts the vitreous into the opaque. Heated to 137.6° C, it softens 
and sublimes without fusing, forming transparent octahedral crystals on 
surfaces that have been warmed. A somewhat characteristic behavior of 
arsenic is the white layer that it forms on the surface of water when thrown 
into it in a state of powder. 

Chemical Properties. 

Arsenious acid has feebly acid properties, but it readily combines with 
bases, the salts being called arsenites. They are generally easily decom- 
posed by a stronger acid. All arsenites of the alkalies are soluble in 
water, and are very poisonous. All the other arsenites are almost insolu- 
ble, and hence the action of lime and magnesia when used as antidotes. 
Most of the arsenites are decomposed by heat, whilst all when heated with 
a reducing agent evolve the metal in a vaporous form. 

Arsenious acid is readily soluble in solutions of the fixed caustic alka- 
lies, but is not so soluble in ammonia. It is very slightly soluble in sul- 
phuric acid, but is freely soluble in hot nitric acid, when the arsenious is 
changed to arsenic acid. It is also readily soluble in hydrochloric and in 
some vegetable acids, in alcohol (1 in 2000 of alcohol, sp. gr. 0.802), and 
in chloroform (1 in 200,000), but is insoluble in absolute ether. When 
chlorine is passed through a solution of the acid, arsenic acid is formed. 

The solubility of arsenic in water is a question of very considerable 
medico-legal importance. There are great variations in the results ob- 
tained by differeut investigators. The following are the chief circum- 
stances that serve to modify the dissolving action of water on the acid : 

1. The peculiar modification of acid used. 

2. Its admixture or contamination with organic matter. It is said that 
the presence of greasy matter, such as bacon, reduces the solubility of ar- 
senious acid to jgth. If this be the fact, it affords a partial explanation 
of why sometimes its action seems to be suspended. — (Dr. Blondlot, "Medi- 
cal Times and Gazette," Feb. 11th, 1860.) 

3. The length of time the water has acted. 

4. The temperature of the water. 

5. If boiled, the length of time that the boiling was continued. 

G. The time that has elapsed between boiliug and the examination. 

We will endeavor to state a few results we have obtained in a tabular 
form, so as to show them as clearly as possible. 



Solubility of Arsenioua Add. 


Fresh crystal- 


Opaque form. 

Line acid. 

1000 grains of cold distilled water after 

standing for 2J hours, dissolved . 

1.74 grains. 

1.16 grains. 

2.0 grains 

1000 grains of boiling water poured on 

tin' acid, and allowed to stand for 24 

hours, dissolved 

10.12 " 


15.0 " 

1000 grains of water boiled for one 

hour, the quantity being kept uni- 

form by the addition of boiling water 

from time to time, and filtered im- 

mediately, dissolved 

04.5 " 

76.5 " 

87.0 " 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

How soon after the poison is taken do the symptoms of arsenical poison- 
ing commence? This is an important medico-legal question. Cases are 
recorded where the symptoms have set in immediately. In one-half the 
recorded cases they have commenced within two hours, and in two-thirds 
within five hours. In two cases that are on record, no active symptoms 
occurred before the fourth day. It will, however, generally be found that 
in cases where the symptoms are delayed for some hours, either that the 
person went to sleep after taking the poison (for during sleep the animal 
system is peculiarly inactive), or that the poison was taken with or soon 
after a meal. Of course, too, the form in which it was swallowed, that is, 
whether solid or in solution, largely influences the rapidity of its action. 

The symptoms are those of an intense irritant. The countenance tells 
of severe suffering. There is generally great depression, followed by a 
"fire burning" pain in the pit of the stomach, aggravated by the slightest 
pressure. Diarrhoea, with tenesmus, burning pains at the anus, and in- 
tensely painful cramps in the legs are usual. We invariably find violent 
vomiting, increased by takiug the least thing into the stomach, the vomit 
consisting either of a white gummy matter from admixture with the poison, 
or of a brown liquid mixed with bile, and sometimes blood. During the 
vomiting the patieut complains of the great heat and constriction felt in 
the throat. There is usually dysuria, the quantity of urine passed being, 
as a rule, diminished in quantity, but not suppressed. Some have asserted 
there is no retention, but simply a constant desire to micturate, whilst 
others hold that retention is a marked symptom of arsenical poisoning 
("Medical Times and Gazette," March 24th, 1866, p. 328). 

Tiie thirst is intense, the skin dry and hot, the headache severe, the 
pulse small and rapid, the tongue dry and furred, the breathing catching, 
the eyes suffused and smarting, the conjunctiva? being red, with great in- 
tolerance of light, great general restlessness, twitchings in the extremities, 
but generally a perfectly clear mind. The nervous symptoms are intense 
and long-continued. These symptoms may terminate in several ways. 

(a) Convulsions, with fits of an epileptic nature. Tetanic spasms, and 
in one case lockjaw, are recorded as early symptoms. 

(6) The case may assume merely the form of English cholera, and the 
practitioner be in this way thrown off his guard. 

(See Dr. Letheby on points of similarity and dissimilarity between 
cholera and arsenical poisoning, "Medical Times," Nov. 11th, 1848, p. 76; 
also Virchow's "Archiv," xlvii, 524. 


(e) Collapse, with or without (as happens iu some very exceptional cases) 
pain, vomiting, or diarrhoea. In these cases death is usually very rapid, 
but the mind is clear to the end. 

(d) Intense coma, as in the case related by Mr. Wright, of Dublin. 

(e) Death may be almost immediate, as if by shock. 

But the symptoms of arsenical poisoning, it must be admitted, are often 
anomalous and perplexing, nor is it possible always to explain them. 
Often there is an irritation and eruption of the skin of a very severe character 
(Christison, p. 328 ; Dr. Schlender's case of arseniuretted hydrogen poison- 
ing); sometimes, and not uncommonly, local paralysis ("Lancet," June 
7th, 1845; "Lancet," July 6th, 1844; "American Journal of Medical 
Science," July, 1851); sometimes salivation, and even mania are recorded 
as having occurred (Christison, p. 316). Sometimes the symptoms sud- 
denly disappear for some hours, to come on with renewed vigor (" London 
Medico-Chirurgical Transactions," II, 134; "Chemical News," Dec. 26th, 
1863). Sometimes the patient dies without literally any bad or severe 
symptoms at all ("Provincial Journal," June 28th, 1848; Christison, p. 
310). In all forms, however, arsenic is a poison. The gaseous form is, 
as we should expect, the most active, and of the rest it may be said that 
the greater the solubility the more intense are their poisonous properties. 
It is a poison, too, however administered, whether applied to the sound 
skin ("Mem. of London Medical Society," II, 397, Mr. Sherwen's experi- 
ments), or used as a wash ("American Journal of Medical Science," July, 
1851), or applied to the scalp ("British Medical Journal," March 5th, 
1864, p. 276), or applied as an ointment to a tumor ("British Medical 
Journal," Oct. 6th, 1866, p. 395), or used as a plaster ("Lancet," March 
20th, 1869, p. 410, and Oct. 3d, 1868, p. 457), or applied to the nostrils 
(Christison, p. 328), or applied to wounds or ulcers (Christison, pp. 320- 
321), or applied to the rectum or vagina (Christison, p. 323), or admin- 
istered internally as solid, liquid, or gas. 

The time of death varies greatly. In one-half of the cases on record it 
proved fatal within nine hours. But it has killed as soon as twenty 
minutes, whilst the fatal period has been delayed to ten and sixteen days, 
and iu one case even to two years. 

As regards fatal quantity, Orfila asserts ("Lancet," Nov. 14th, 1840, p. 
262), that however much arsenic may be taken into the stomach, the whole 
quantity absorbed iu case of death never exceeds 1.5 to 2 grains. In Dr. 
Sigmond's lectures in the "Lancet" of Dec. 16th, 1837, the case of a man, 
a;t. 63, is referred to, who took one grain of arsenic in divided doses, and 
died, it was believed, as the result. A second case is recorded by Roux 
of a girl, set. 18, who died after the application of a very weak " pate 
arseuicale" to a cancerous breast; aud a third case is recorded by Sir 
Astley Cooper, where death resulted from the application of arsenic to a 
fungus iu the eye, the stomach after death showing all the appearances of 
arsenical poisoning. Iu a case recorded by Dr. Letheby, 2.5 grains proved 
fatal to a girl of nineteen. On the other hand, there are numerous cases 
on record of recovery after enormous doses. In nearly all these cases, 
however, two conditions are recorded; first, that the poison was taken 
iafter a full meal, and secondly, that very early and free vomiting occurred. 
This indeed is doubtless the explanation of many cases which otherwise 
appear unexplainable. Nor must we forget to mention the remarkable 
stories of the arsenic-eaters of Styria and Lower Austria; stories, indeed, 
which it is as hard to credit as it is impossible to explain (" Lancet," 
January 17th, 1852, p. 85). We have also a curious case on record of an 
English arsenic eater, who was able to take very large quantities of the 


poison ("Medical Times and Gazette," Oct 6th, 1866, p. 375). Arsenic 
is also sai<! to be used largely by the Cingalese Its method of prepara- 
tion by tlieni is curious ("Medical Times and Gazette," Oct. 25th, 1862, 
p. 454). It has been stated that the intensity of arsenic as a poison is 
increased by its admixture with certain salts, such as nitre ("Medical 
Times," Dec. 7th, 1844, p. 216). 

(Respecting the tolerance for arsenic, see Headland on the "Action of 
Medicines," p. 400.) 

Further, it has been stated that the poisonous effects of arsenic are 
greatly aggravated when it is administered after antimony has been given 
and during the intermission of its use. Under such circumstances even 
medicinal doses have proved dangerous ("Medical Times and Gazette," 
May 22d, 1858, p. 524). 


X> ver neglect treatment because the case looks hopeless. As a rule vomit- 
ing sets in spontaneously; and if the poison has been taken on a full 
stomach the whole of it may in this way be got rid of. Not so, however, 
if taken on an empty one, for then the arsenic sticks to the stomach, sets 
up intense inflammation, and becomes glued to the coats by the exudation 
of coagulable lymph ("Ann. d'Hyg.," xxx, pp. 124-423). 

If the case is seen immediately after the poison has been taken, the 
stomach-pump may be used, but not under any circumstances afterwards. 
To get rid of the poison, which must be your first endeavor, administer 
hot milk and water, and emetics of sulphate of zinc or mustard, at the 
same time tickle the throat with a feather. But do not give antimony. 

After free vomiting give milk and eggs. Sugar and magnesia in milk 
is a good mixture, an insoluble compound with arsenious acid being in this 
way formed. Treat symptoms as they arise: collapse with stimulants, 
nervous symptoms with anodynes, coma by venesection, tetanus with chlo- 
roform, thirst with water. 

The hydrated peroxides of iron and magnesia are much lauded by some 
as antidotes in cases of arsenical poisoning. The first is prepared by pre- 
cipitating the muriatic tincture of iron with excess of ammonia, collecting 
the precipitate on a filter-paper, aud well washing it with water, and the 
second by precipitating a strong solution of sulphate of magnesia with liquor 
potassre. Each must be prepared fresh and given whilst moist. They 
should, to be of any good, be administered at least in the proportion of 20 
part- of the iron compound to every 1 of the acid taken (see experiments 
by Dr. Donald Mackenzie, "Lancet," April 4th, 1840, p. 46). 

The permanganate of potash, well diluted, is also recommended, in order 
to convert arsenious into arsenic acid. 

The hydrated sulphide of iron (recommended by Mialhe), acetate of 
iron, animal and vegetable charcoal, and albumen, are all next to useless. 

Lastly, act on the kidneys by frequently repeated doses of nitrate of 
potash. For the kidneys, it is to be remembered, are the great excretors 
of the poison. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

We may remark first, that several cases are recorded where no special 
after-death appearances were discovered. In one such case the patient 
lived for twelve hours and the vomiting had been violent (Professor Wag- 
ner : Horn's Archiv, 1834, 755). As a rule, where all absence of abnor- 
mal change is noted, death has been unusually rapid ; but, on the contrary, 
it must not be forgotten that death may be very rapid, and yet, well-marked 
post-mortem appearances be found. 


The post-mortem appearances usually discovered are those common to 
the action of irritant poisons. Their intensity for the most part depend 
on two circumstances: (1) the amount taken, and (2) the length of time 
the patient lived after taking it. The stomach is acutely inflamed, either 
in its entirety or in patches, the inflamed parts being often covered with 
coagulable lymph mixed with solid arsenic, supposing the poison to have 
been taken in that form. One well-marked peculiarity must specially be 
noted, and that is, that the stomach is generally studded with minute pe- 
techious dots (see plate 1). This condition is often apparent, even when 
death has taken place after two or three hours. The coats of the stomach 
are sometimes thickened and corrugated (and this is the common appear- 
auce I, whilst at other times they appear thinner than normal. Ulceration 
is rare, but it has beeu found even when death has occurred as early as 
ten hours after the poison has been swallowed. Perforation and gangrene 
are still more uncommon (for arsenic is not a corrosive poison), although 
such cases are on record. The intestines may be inflamed along their 
whole length, but more often the inflammation is limited to the duodenum. 
The colon is often very contracted, and the rectum is invariably the seat 
of acute inflammation. Congestion of the oesophagus, mouth, and wind- 
pipe, from the application of the poison during vomiting, is general. In- 
flammation of the bladder and peritoneum, enlargement of the intestinal 
glands, livid spots on the skiu, congestion and serous effusion of the brain, 
are occasionally found. It is remarkable that, as a rule, no special post- 
mortem appearances will be noticed in the liver, spleeu, or kidneys, although 
these are the great receptacles of the poison. The blood is usually fluid. 
Dr. Wilks has pointed out that ecchymosis of the heart is common (" Medi- 
cal Times and Gazette," June 18th, 186*2, p. 70). Sometimes the organs 
of generation are greatly inflamed. 

It is stated that after death by arsenical poisoning, the body has a pecu- 
liar alliaceous odor. The authors have never been able to detect it. 

Further, we must note the great preservative power of arsenic. It is 
on account of this property that we employ it for injecting bodies in the 
dissecting-room, and for the same reason it is used in stuffing birds and 
animals. Dr. Wormley tells of a case where a body was found to be well 
preserved seventeen months after poisoning by arsenic, whilst others record 
cases of bodies remaining in good condition for very much longer periods. 
But some cases are on record (exceptional cases, it must be admitted) of 
the reverse. How far this may be due to the arsenic having been entirely 
removed from the body by vomiting is the question, and may be the true 

Chronic Arsenical Poisoning. 

Chronic arsenical poisoning has been carefully investigated by Dr. George 
Harley (" Lancet," November 23d, 1861, p. 499). The following are some 
of the results at which he arrives: 

1. That arsenic has a specific action on the digestive canal. 

2. That the action of arsenic on the digestive canal is manifested irre- 
spectively of its mode of administration. 

3. That the effects of the direct contact of arsenic with the mucous mem- 
brane is slight compared with the influence it exerts through the blood. 

4. That the symptoms and post-mortem appearances of acute and chronic 
poisoning differ materially. 

5. That the post-mortem changes in the acute form are most marked at 
the cardiac, and in the chronic form at the pyloric end of the stomach. 

6. That the more gradual the poisoning the more manifest is the action 



^ > 


~s i 


t m 



g 2 


» £ 


<S CO 

2 > 

s- - 

3 - 





of the poison oil the intestines, and the less manifest its action on the 

7. That death may occur so rapid])' that no structural change will be 

8. Thai the immunity of arsenic-eaters is probably due to their taking 
it in a solid form, and consequently a very small portion only entering the 

9. That the beneficial effects of arsenic as a medicine are due to its di- 
minishing ti>su.e change by its peculiar action on the blood. 

10. That its prejudicial effects are due to its destroying the power of the 
blood to become oxidized, and of thereby being fitted for the purposes of 


I. For Sol id Arsenious Acid. 

1. Heat a small quantity of the acid on platinum-foil, when it will be 
found to volatilize completely, opaque white garlic-scented fumes being 

Fig. 10. 

given off. If any residue be left it is impurity, and probably sulphate of 

The evolution of the white fumes is well marked when the acid is thrown 
on a hot coal. 

2. Heat a small portion of the acid on a clean platinum wire in a blow- 
pipe flame. The flame will be fouud to be tinged of a pale blue color 
(arsenical flame), white fumes being given off. (Fig. 10.) 

3. Put a small quantity of the acid into a reduction-tube, and warm the 
portion of the tube just above the acid previously to heating the acid itself. 
After this, apply the flame to the acid, when a sublimate which sparkles 
when the tube is held against a black background, will be formed on that 
part of the tube that has been heated, but it is to be noted that the arseni- 
ous acid itself has not melted. The crystals on being examined with a 
strong lens, will be found to be octahedral, having triangular facets, rarely 
of any other form, and invariably separate and distinct (Figs. 11 and 12). 
If the portion of the tube where the sublimate collects is not warmed, the 
sublimate will not be crystalline but amorphous. 

(Note that oxalic acid, corrosive sublimate, and ammonia salts, yield 
crystalline sublimates, but that none of these sublime before melting, and 
none produce octahedral crystals.) 

That part of the tube containing the sublimate of arsenious acid should 
now be broken off and boiled in water for some time, and the solution 
examined for the acid by the liquid tests. If there is only a small quan- 
tity for analysis it is not advisable to use a larger reduction-tube than 



yVth in. diameter, and to draw it out, so that you may sublime the arseni- 
ous acid (AsX) 3 ) iuto the capillary portion, which can then be easily ex- 
amined under the microscope for the crystals. It has been suggested to 
collect the sublimate on a flat glass, but for practical purposes the method 
we have described is much to be preferred. 

Fig. 12. 


4. B.iil some of the powder of arsenious acid in a beaker in water; little 
lumps of the acid will be found at the bottom of the beaker, and a white 
film will collect upon the surface of the water, which will be equally 
apparent whether the water be cold or hot. 

5. Add to a small quantity of the acid placed in a watch-glass, a little 
sulphide of ammonium. No change of color will result. If a gradual 
heat be now applied the arseuic will dissolve, and as soon as all the 
ammonia is dissipated, a yellow film of sulphide of arsenicum will be left, 
which is soluble in alkalies, but insoluble in hydrochloric acid. 

6. Take a dry warm narrow hard-glass reduction-tube (avoiding Ger- 
man glass, because it contaius lead), about four iuches long aud one-eighth 

inch diameter, and place in it a small 
FlG - ' 3 - quantity of arsenious acid well mixed 

with some reducing agent, taking 
care not to soil the tube in introduc- 
ing the mixture. (Dr. Letheby rec- 
ommends as a reducing agent a 
mixture of powdered charcoal and 
carbonate of sodium, and Dr. Tay- 
lor, one part of cyanide of potas- 
sium and three parts of dry carbon- 
ate of sodium. Acetate of sodium 
well incinerated, mixed either with 
finely powdered aud recently ignited 
charcoal or dried ferrocyanide of potassium is recommeuded by others as 
a flux.) Cover the tube, holding it obliquely, loosely with the finger, and 
apply the heat of a spirit-lamp or of a gas flame to the mixture (Fig. 13). 

Note as follows : 

A. The garlic odor, which is especially produced as the metal passes 
from the metallic state to that of arsenious acid. This garlic odor is not, 
however, peculiar to arsenic. 

B. The dark brown or black ring of metallic arsenic, formed about half 
an inch above the mixture in the cool part of the tube (Fig. 14, b). 
This ring is often double, the lower part being brilliantly metallic, but 
the upper part less lustrous, aud merging off at its upper margin iuto an 



arsenious acid sublimate. The iutemal part of the ring will usually be 
seen to be distinctly crystalline. 

C. The ring of metallic arseuic will be found to be very volatile, and 
when heat is applied to it, it can be made to pass up and down the tube, 
the sublimate collecting on those parts that are cold ; and 

D. It will be found that after repeated volatilizations in Fl,i 14 - 
the presence of plenty of air, the whole of the metal will be- 
come oxidized, and white octahedral crystals of arsenious acid 
only be left. This is undoubted evidence of its arsenical na- 
ture. It will be advisable, in order to obtain the complete 
oxidation of the arsenieurn, if in any quantity, to cut away the 
part of the tube containing the metallic ring, to put it into a 
test-tube where the supply of air is abundant, and then to 
apply heat. 

E. The sublimate of arsenious acid thus obtained is to be 
boiled with water, and the solution examined by the liquid 

F. Or, instead of oxidizing the metallic sublimate as above, 
dissolve the ring of metallic arsenic in a drop or two of dilute 
nitro-muriatic acid, and evaporate the solution to drvness, 
when arsenic acid will be left. This is to be dissolved in a 
little water, aud treated with a solution of nitrate of silver, 
when a red-brick precipitate of arsenate of silver will be pro- 

G. The metallic sublimate is soluble in a solution of hypochlorite of 
soda or lime. 

Fallacies. Mercury compounds, cadmium, tellurium, and selenium, like 
arsenieurn, yield sublimates, but as a rule they appear globular even to 
the naked eye. The globules of a selenium sublimate are of a port-wine 
color. Tellurium occasionally produces a crystalline sublimate ' telluric 
acid), but 

(1) Xone yield octahedral crystals when revolatilized. 

(2) ^Xone are soluble in hypochlorite of soda. 

(3) Having been treated as directed (F) with nitro-hydrochloric acid, 

none give a red precipitate with nitrate of silver. 

7. Dissolve some chloride of tin in hydrochloric acid, and heat to boil- 
ing. The solution should be colorless. The merest trace of arsenious acid 
added to this solution produces a brown-black precipitate of metallic 
arsenic. Antimony gives no result with this test (Bettendorffj. 

II. For Arsenious Acid in Solution. 

1. The solution is tasteless or nearly so. 

2. It is feebly acid to litmus (reaction noticeable with 1 part in 1000 of 

3. The solution when evaporated to dryness leave* octahedral crystals, 
which may be completely volatilized by the continued application of heat. 

4. The following reactions should be noted, but they are unimportant as 
tests, because of their numerous fallacies : 

Lime-water gives a white precipitate, soluble in hydrochloric acid. 

Iodide of pota-mum gives a white precipitate, which becomes yellow on 
the addition of hydrochloric acid. 

Bichromate of potash giv»s a green precipitate. 

Boiled with caustic potash and a drop of a solution of sulphate of cojij,er 
added, a red precipitate of the suboxide is produced. A similar action 


occurs with grape-sugar. A very little sulphate of copper must be added, 
otherwise the black protoxide will be thrown dowu which masks the red 
color of the suboxide. 

The following tests are of impotrance: 

5. Ammonio-Nitrate of Silver (Hume's Test, 1789). The reagent must 
be prepared fresh each time it is required. {Preparation : Add, drop by 
drop, a weak solution of ammonia to a solution of nitrate of silver, until 
the brown precipitate first produced is nearly dissolved ; decant the clear 
liquid. There must be enough ammonia, otherwise a yellow precipitate 
will be produced with alkaline phosphates and silicates, but not too much, 
otherwise no precipitate is formed with arsenious acid.) 

This solution produces a bright-yellow crystalline precipitate of arsenite 
of silver (Ag 3 As0 3 ) with arsenious acid solutions. The precipitate is 
soluble in ammonia and in dilute acids, but insoluble in the fixed caustic 
alkalies. It is decomposed by hydrochloric acid, chloride of silver being 
formed. It changes to a greenish-brown color by the action of sunlight. 

The precipitate must be collected and heated with a reducing agent. In 
this way a sublimate of metallic arsenic will be obtained, from which sub- 
limate the octahedral crystals of arsenious acid may be produced by 
repeated volatilizations iu a free supply of air. 


A yellow precipitate is produced with free phosphoric acid, which is 
soluble in ammonia and nitric acid. 

A yellow precipitate is produced with vanadic acid. 

A yellow precipitate is also produced with alkaline iodides and bromides, 
which is insoluble in dilute nitric acid, and only slightly soluble in am- 

None of these precipitates, however, yield sublimates resembling those 
of metallic arsenic or of arsenious acid. 

Note. — This test is not applicable to solutions containing organic mat- 
ter, as it decomposes the test reagent. 

6. Ammonio-Sulphnte of Copper (Seheele's Test"). 

(Preparation. — Add drop by drop ammonia solution to a weak solution 
of sulphate of copper, until the precipitate first produced is nearly dis- 
solved. Decant the clear liquid. The test is to be prepared fresh each 
time it is required.) 

It produces with a solution of arsenious acid a light apple-green pre- 
cipitate of arsenite of copper (Seheele's green: CuH, As0 3 ), which is 
soluble in ammonia and dilute acids. If the solution is weak, the pre- 
cipitate is some time in appearing. Sulphate of copper alone gives similar 
precipitates with solutions of neutral arsenites. 

Collect the arsenite of copper and test as follows: 

(a) Heat a small quantity in a reduction-tube with a reducing agent, 
aud by this means obtain a metallic sublimate, which must afterwards be 
oxidized by repeated volatilizations. 

(b) Dissolve the remainder of the arsenite in hydrochloric acid aud 
divide into two parts (1 aud 2). 

(1) Pass sulphuretted hydrogen through the solution, collect the pre- 

cipitate, dissolve in ammonia, and filter; neutralize the filtrate 
with hydrochloric acid, when the sulphide will be again pre- 

(2) Test the remainder of the acid solution by boiling in it some 

strips of clean copper. 


/ 'Jacies: no metallic substance is likely to be a source of error, but 
various organic substances, sucli as tea, coffee, etc., give a somewhat similar 

7. Sulphuretted Hydrogen (BUS). 

Gives with an araenious acid solution, acidulated with hydrochloric acid, 
a bright-yellow amorphous precipitate of orpiment (As 2 S 3 ). 

Note — 

A. The precipitate is not produced in an alkaline solution. Hence sul- 
phide of ammonium should not be used, although the arsenic can be after- 
wards precipitated by the addition of hydrochloric acid. It must, how- 
ever, be remembered that acids precipitate sulphur, which has more than 
once been mistaken for orpiment from the similarity of the color. 

B. The sulphuretted hydrogen should always be passed through a wash- 
bottle before passing it through the solution to be tested (Fig. 4). 

C. The hydrochloric acid used in the experiment must be pure and free 
from arsenic. 

D. Dr. Taylor says the precipitation is aided by the addition of a solu- 
tion of chloride of ammonium. 

E. If the araenious acid solution be very dilute, it will be advisable, 
before collecting the precipitate, to get rid of the excess of sulphuretted 
hydrogen by heating the solution. 

F. When organic matter is present, the precipitate often appears of a 
dull yellow color. 

G. If sulphate of copper has been given as an emetic, the black color of 
the copper precipitate may obscure the yellow color of the arsenic. In 
such a case filter off the precipitate, digest in ammonia, filter, and evap- 
orate down the ammoniacal solution, when the residue will show the yellow 
color of the orpiment. 

The sulphide of arsenic is insoluble in cold hydrochloric acid, and but 
very slightly soluble in hot; but it is soluble in nitric acid (by which it is 
changed into arsenic acid) and also in caustic alkalies, and in alkaline 
sulphides and carbonates. 

Memo: — Sulphuretted hydrogen gives a bright yellow precipitate with 
Cadmium in weak acid solutions, the precipitate being soluble in hydro- 
chloric acid, but insoluble in alkalies. 

It gives with SelENIOUS Acid in neutral or alkaline solutions a yellow 
precipitate changing to red, the precipitate being insoluble either in hydro- 
chloric acid or in ammonia. 

It giws with Tin a dull yellow precipitate either in acid or neutral 
solutions, the precipitate being sparingly soluble in ammonia. 

It gives with Antimony an orange red precipitate, either in acid, neu- 
tral or alkaline solutions, the precipitate being soluble in cold coueentratexl 
hydrochloric acid, very soluble in caustic potash, but nearly insoluble in 
ammouia. (A hydrochloric acid solution, boiled with a piece of copper- 
foil, produces a violet-colored metallic deposit, which mav be known from 
arsenic by not yielding octahedral crystals, i 

You have now to prove the yellow precipitate produced by sulphuretted 
hydrogen is an arsenical sulphide. Note us follows : 

1. It is insoluble in water or in hydrochloric acid. 

2. It is soluble in ammonia solution and in solutions of caustic potash 
and soda. 

3. Dry and heat a portion of the sulphide with a reducing flux of car- 
bonate of sodium and charcoal in a reduction-tube, and so obtain — 


(a) A metallic sublimate. 

(b) Octahedral crystals of arsenious acid by repeated volatiliza- 

tions iu the presence of air. 

4. Dissolve a portion of the precipitate in hot nitric acid. Evaporate 
to dryness, and, the residue being neutral, add a few drops of a strong 
solution of nitrate of silver, when a brickdust precipitate of arsenate of 
silver will be formed (Ag 3 AsO J ). 

8. Marsh's Test. (Mr. Marsh of Woolwich, 1836.) 

(Depending on the property of nascent hydrogen to combine with 
arsenic to form arseuiuretted hydrogen, AsH 3 .) 

Arseniuretted hydrogen (s. g. 2.695), is a colorless gas having a garlic 
odor, very poisonous, sparingly soluble in water, burning with a bluish 
flame, and being readily decomposed by heat into arsenicum and free 
hydrogen : 

To make the experiment proceed as follows: 

An apparatus must be arranged as below, new bottles and tubes being 
used for each experiment (Fig. 15). 

Generate hydrogen in the bottle (a) by the action of pure dilute sul- 
phuric acid on pure zinc. If the hydrogen be difficult to get off, as it will 

Fig. 15. Fig. 16. 

often be found to be when pure zinc is used, a few little pieces of platinum 
dropped into the bottle will remedy the difficulty. Prove the absence of 
any arsenic in the reagents, first of all, by generating the gas for some 
fifteen minutes, and testing as directed. If all the materials be thus 
proved to be pure, then pour the arsenical liquid to be examined, into the 
bottle where the hydrogen is being generated. The gas (which will now 
be arseniuretted hydrogen) will be found to come off much faster than the 
pure hydrogen did before the addition of the arsenical solution. Ignite 
the gas. Note — 

A. The Jet. — This is much increased in size by the addition of the 
arsenic. (The hydrogen, therefore, should be generated very slowly before 
the arsenic is added.) The flame becomes of a blue tint, has a garlic 
odor, and may possibly give off a thick white smoke (As,O s ), which may 
be collected (Fig. 16). (The flame of antimoniuretted hydrogen is with- 
out smell and of a green color.) 

B. Hold a slip of cold porcelain near the point of the flame (e), when a 
crust of metallic arsenic will form upon it. Several of these deposits 
should be obtained, and they will be found to possess the following charac- 



ters. The centre part has a brilliantly metallic lustre, and is surrounded 
by a dark ring (probably a suboxide of the metal : Odling); outside this, 
either a white ring of arsenious acid, or a brownish ring formed by a mix- 
ture of the metal and arsenious acid, will be found. 
To prove this stain is arsenical. Note — 

(a) Its metallic brilliancy. 

(j) Its hair-brown color. This is best seen by transmitted light. 

(y) Its volatility. The stain is dissipated, and arsenious acid pro- 
duced, when it is heated even below redness. 

(<5) Its solubility when warmed in a solution of chloride of lime. 

(s) No apparent action results when the stain is first treated with 
sulphide of ammonium, but if heat be applied to the mixture, a 
yellow staiu having a metallic centre will be formed. 

(I) Warm the staiu with a drop or two of nitro-inuriatic acid and 
evaporate to dryness ; the residue may be proved to be arsenic 
acid by the production of the peculiar brickdust precipitate of 
arsenate of silver on the addition of nitrate of silver. 

(r t ) It is not acted upon by a solution of protochloride of tin. 

The authors consider it very doubtful that any difficulty or fallacy can 
arise (as some have suggested ) from the presence in the arsenical solution 
of iron, phosphorus, or sulphur. 

Note the following points of difference in the reactions of a crust of me- 
tallic arsenic and of metallic antimonv. 


1. Acted on very slowly by sulphide of 

2. This mixture (1) evaporated to dry- 
ness gives a brigld yellow deposit, — 

Soluble in ammonia ; 
Insoluble in hydrochloric acid. 

3. Tt is very soluble in a solution of 
chloride of lime. 

4. It is soluble in warm nitric acid; 
and this, on being evaporated to dryness, 
leaves a white residue. 

Add nitrate of silver and a brick-red 
precipitate is produced. 

5. It is not dissolved by a solution of 
protochloride of tin. 


1. Dissolved rajndly by sulphide of 

2. This mixture (1 ) evaporated to dry- 
ness gives an oronge-red deposit, — 

Insoluble in ammonia ; 
Soluble in hydrochloric acid. 

3. It is very slightly and slowly solu- 
ble in a solution of chloride of lime. 

4. It is soluble in warm nitric acid; 
and this, on being evaporated to dryness, 
leaves a white residue. 

Add nitrate of silver and no action 
•5. It is dissolved slowly by a solution 
of protochloride of tin. 


C. Heat the tube at d (Fig. 15) to a red heat, when the gas will be 
composed and a steel-gray ring of 

metallic arsenic be formed at some Fig. 17. 

little distance beyond the flame ( Ber- 
zelius). (It is better that the tube 
should be red hot before the arseni- 
cal solution is introduced.) 

Note the following differences be- 
tween the staiu produced by arseni- 
uretted hydrogen and that produced 
by antimoniuretted hydrogen under 
similar circumstances: 

1. To produce the arsenical 
stain a higher tempera- 
ture is needed than is re- 
quired to produce theautimonial from their respective hydrogen 



2. The arsenical stain is deposited at a short distance from the source 

of heat (Fig. 17 (1)). The antimonial is deposited close 
to and on both sides of it (2). 

3. The arsenical stain readily volatilizes by the application of heat, 

reeondensing a little further on in the tube, octahedral crystals 
of As 2 3 being formed. The antimonial stain volatilizes with 
difficulty, and yields a white amorphous precipitate very near 
to the spot where the heat is applied. 

4. The arsenical stain is soluble in a solution of chlorinated lime, the 

antimonial being insoluble. 

5. Similar tests are to be applied to these stains as already described 

(page 149). 

D. Pass the gas slowly through a weak solution of nitrate of silver, 
when a black precipitate of metallic silver will be produced. Precipitate 
the excess of silver with hydrochloric acid, filter, and either 

(1) Evaporate the filtrate to dryness and test the residue for arsenic 

acid with nitrate of silver; or 

(2) Treat the filtrate with sulphuretted hydrogen. If the quantity 

be sufficient, try both tests. 

(Note. — If the silver solution should become suddenly black, this may 
be due to sulphur compounds, which you would know are being set free 
by testing the action of the gas on lead-paper.) 

E. Sometimes it is convenient to pass the arseniuretted hydrogen into 
nitric acid containing a little sulphuric acid. This may afterwards be 
evaporated to dryness, aud tested for arsenic acid with nitrate of silver. 

It must not be forgotten that not 
FigIS - only the zinc but also the oil of 

vitriol of commerce often contains 
arsenic, from the pyrites used in its 
preparation. Roussiu recommended 
the use of magnesium in the place of 
zinc, and Morton ("Lancet," Jan. 
16th and June 12th, 1841, pp. 585 
and 394) has suggested utilizing for 
the experiment the hydrogen devel- 
oped during the decomposition of 
water by the galvanic battery. 

The annexed figure (Fig. 18) rep- 
resents the form of apparatus recom- 
mended by Bloxam, and needs ouly 
a word of explanation. A 2-ounce 
bottle has its bottom replaced by a 
parchment covering, secured round 
the bottle with platinum wire. This 
is placed in another glass, and the 
whole apparatus kept cool by being immersed in a vessel containing cold 
water. Two pieces of platinum-foil connected with platinum wires, are 
placed one in the bottle and one in the vessel external to the bottle. The 
one in the bottle is to be connected with the negative pole of the battery 
from which the hydrogen is generated, and the other with the positive pole. 
Both the vessel and the bottle are to be filled half full with dilute sul- 
phuric acid (one to three of water). When the absence of arsenic has 
been clearly ascertained, the liquid to be tested maybe poured through the 
funnel into the bottle. All the reactions already described can thus be 


obtained. The frothing which sometimes occurs can be kept in check by 
the addition of a little alcohol. 

The delicacy of Marsh's test is very great. 

Should the arsenic exist as arsenic acid, or as a salt of arsenic acid, no 
arseniuretted hydrogen will be generated. It is then necessary to heat the 
arsenic acid with sulphite of soda, and so reduce it to the low 7 er grade of 
oxidation, when the reactions described may be obtained. 

9. Reituch'a Test (1843). 

(Depending on the deposit of the metal on copper when boiled in a hy- 
drochloric-acid solution.) 

Boil the solution of arsenious acid with about one-sixth its bulk of pure 
hydrochloric acid, and place in the mixture one or two pieces of well- 
cleaned, bright, pure copper-foil. 

The copper is to be cleaned by first heating it in a Bunsen burner, and, 
after acting upon it with a little nitric acid in a test-tube until it is per- 
fectly bright, thoroughly washing with water. 

The copper will, alter a short time, acquire a steellike metallic coating, 
which will be found, if the solution is boiled loo long, or the arsenic be in 
large quantity, to peel off readily from the copper. If the arsenic is only 

Fig. 19. 

preseut in very small quantity, the deposit is thin and of a violet tint. 
The coating is believed to be an alloy of arsenic and copper (Lippert). 
The delicacy of this test is very great, and although it is, perhaps, not so 
delicate as Marsh's test, it is in our opinion far more useful for general 

The following points in the experiment demand attention : 

1. The hydrochloric acid and the copper must themselves be proved to 
be free from arsenic. 

2. At the commencement of the experiment, the smaller the piece of 
copper-foil that is introduced the better; but if the first piece becomes 
coated, then piece after piece should be added until the last piece remains 

3. Before you decide the absence of arsenic, boil the copper with the 
acid solution for at least half an hour, as the liquid may possibly deposit 
arsenic on the copper as it becomes more concentrated. 

4. Copper will sometimes become somewhat dingy after prolonged- 
boiling in an acid liquid containing organic matter. This dinginess must 
not be mistaken for an arsenical deposit. 

And now remove the copper strips from the solution, wash them with a 
little pure water from a w'ash-bottle, and dry by pressing them very gently 
between folds of blotting-paper. 

You must now prove that the deposit on the copper is arsenic. 

Note — 

1. The steel-gray color of the deposit. 

2. Coil up the pieces of copper and put them into a dry clean reduction- 
tube (dry, because the deposition of moisture might possibly be deceptive). 
Heat them, and in this manner the octahedral crystals of arsenious acid 
will be obtained. The size of the reduction-tube used must depend on the 


quantity of the deposit. If it be only very small, a tube drawn out some- 
what finely will be best (Fig. 19 ), the sublimate being allowed to form iu 
the narrowed portion of the tube. 

3. Proceed to test these crystals of arsenious acid as already described 
by the liquid tests after dissolving them by boiling with water. 

This test is not applicable when oxidizing bodies are present. Free 
nitric acid, excess of nitrates, or the presence of a chlorate are therefore 

The possible fallacies are important — antimony, mercury, silver, bismuth, 
platinum, palladium, tin and gold are deposited on copper when boiled in 
an acid solution, whilst the dingy tarnish that copper acquires when boiled 
in an acid liquid containing organic matter (especially if it contains sul- 
phur) has already been noted. The antimony deposit is violet ; the mercury, 
silver, and bismuth deposits are bright aud silvery ; the gold is yellow, whilst 
the platinum and palladium deposits have a great resemblauce to arsenic. 
Two only of these deposits, however, besides arsenic, viz., antimony and 
mercury, yield a sublimate when heated iu a reduction-tube. 

(a) The sublimate from antimony is amorphous, aud insoluble in water. 

(,J) The sublimate from mercury consists of bright metallic globules in- 
soluble in water. 

(?) The sublimate from arsenic consists of octahedral crystals, sparingly 
soluble in water. The presence of these octahedral crystals is decisive. 

Lastly, tartar emetic often contains a trace of arsenic. Hence if tartar 
emetic has been given to produce vomiting or as a medicine, the possibility 
of obtaining a mixed sublimate must not be overlooked. 

Toxicological A nalysis. 

In conducting a toxicological investigation — 

1. Note that inasmuch as white arsenic is only very sparingly soluble in 
the fluids of the digestive tract, solid white particles should be carefully 
looked for with a powerful magnifying glass both in the contents and on 
the coats of the stomach, scraping them for this purpose here and there 
with the handle of a scalpel. It must not be concluded that every white 
powder so found is arsenic (such mistakes have been made), but it should, 
if found, be carefully removed, cleaned, and tested. Note further whether 
the arsenic is iu lumps or in fine powder. 

2. Carefully look for soot or indigo with which the arsenic may have 
been mixed. 

3. Remember that white arsenic, as the body putrefies, may pass par- 
tially or completely info the state of yellow sulphide. If solid arsenic is 
found it is absolutely certain it was taken in a solid state, but if otherwise, 
it may then have been taken either as a solid or in solution. 

4. In cases of suspected arsenical poisoning, examine, if possible, par- 
ticularly the urine, the liver, aud the spleen. Iu these the largest quautity 
will probably be found, and possibly when none can be discovered iu other 

As regards the elimination of the poison by the uriue, M. Lafonde's 
experiments prove that the time which elapses between the administration 
of the arsenic aud its detection in the urine is never less than one, or more 
than seven hours. ( " Lancet," 1845, vol. ii, p. 269.) 

Further, it is worth noting that Dr. Legroux found the serum from a 
blister of a patient who had taken arsenic gave distinct evidences of the 
presence of the poison. ("Med. Times," Oct. 9th, 1847, p. 652.) 


A. Cut up the tissues, to be examined, very fine, and as for as possible 
break them up in a mortar. Dilute these, together with any organic 
liquids such as the contents of the stomach, with sufficient distilled water 
that they may filter easily. Acidulate with hydrochloric acid, aDd set the 
whole aside for some hours in a warm place. Filter. Divide the filtrate 
into two parts (_a and p). 

(a) Through one part pass for some time a stream of washed sulphu- 
retted hydrogen. Collect the precipitate and test (see tests . 
(,5) The other half is to be examined by Reinsch's process (see tests). 

All the solid materials on the filter-paper are now to be well mixed 
with dilute hydrochloric acid (one of acid to two of water) gently boiled, 
then filtered, and the filtrate tested by Reinsch's process see tests . 

Vomited and other matters may be similarly examined. 

B. The following is a process which, at times, may be found useful. 
Acidulate the contents of the stomach with acetic acid, add distilled 

water and boil ; filter; again and again boil in fresh acidulated water and 
filter. Mix these filtrates together, and divide them into two equal parts 
(1 and 2). 

(1) Evaporate the one part nearly to dryness, and heat until quite 

charred with twice its bulk of sulphuric acid. Dilute the 
mixture with water, and little by littie pour it into a Woulff's 
bottle in which hydrogen is being slowly evolved from pure 
zinc and dilute sulphuric acid. Pass the gas by means of a 
bent tube drawn out at its end through a solution of nitrate of 
silver, when a black precipitate will be thrown down. (Tlie 
gas must only be allowed to pass slowly. When no more gas 
comes over, add to the black silver solution hydrochloric acid 
in slight excess, in order to precipitate the remainder of the 
silver; boil for a few minutes, filter and evaporate the filtrate 
to dryness. Dissolve any residue in distilled water, and care- 
fully precipitate the arsenic acid as arsenate of silver with 
ammouio-nitrate of silver I 451.51 grs. = 100 grs. of arsenious 

Heated with black flux or charcoal this arsenate of silver may be re- 
duced, the metallic sublimate being preserved for evidence. 

(2) Slightly acidulate the second part with hydrochloric acid, and 

boil the solution with some clean strips of copper that have 
been previously weighed. After boiling for some time remove 
the pieces of copper, dry, and again weigh — the increase of 
weight being noted. They are then to be heated in a tube and 
the metal sublimed, the weight of the copper, less the arseni- 
cum, being again noted. In this way the quantity of arsenic 
present may be estimated. 

Several other processes are recommended by some toxicologists, and 
these (without ourselves recommending them) we must briefly notice. 

C. I Process of Fresenhus and Yon Babo.) — Cut the tissues up very fine r 
and mix them with an equal weight of hydrochloric acid. Heat on a 
water-bath. Add twenty grains of chlorate of potash and stir well. Re- 
peat the dose of chlorate of potash from time to time until the organic 
matter is entirely destroyed, which may be known by the light yellow 
color the solution will assume. Continue the heat until all odor of chlo- 



rine has disappeared. Strain the materials. Any arsenic now exists in 
the solution as arsenic acid — (As 2 5 ). 

Reduce the arsenic acid (As 2 5 ) to arsenious acid (As 2 3 ) by boiling 
with sulphite of sodium. 

Add to the solution hydrochloric acid, and pass sulphuretted hydrogen 
through it. Collect the precipitate by allowing it to staud, and then 
pouring off the supernatant liquid. Act on this with a little water and 
with strong ammonia (mercury, copper, antimony, and lead will not be 
dissolved). Filter the solution, and wash the matters on the filter-paper 
with ammonia-water. The filtrate will contain the arsenic, the solution 
being generally pure enough to be at once tested. 

The precipitate on the filter-paper may then be examined for other sub- 

Take care previously, however, carefully to examine the chlorate of 
potash for arsenic. This can easily be done by passing sulphuretted 
hydrogen through the solution of the salt, or by adding to it a solution 
either of ammoniacal sulphate of copper (green) or of ammoniacal nitrate 
of silver (yellow). — 0.002 part of a grain of arsenic in a fluid ounce of a 
solution containing six per cent, of chlorate of potash can in this way be 
easily detected. Reinsch's lest cannot be used, because the gases evolved 
(chlorine and chloric oxide) by the action of hydrochloric acid on the salt 
at a boiling temperature dissolve the copper. Marsh's test may be used. 
For this purpose treat the solution with sulphuric acid drop by drop 
until about one-tenth part by volume has been added. With this solution 
hydrogen may be set free by acting on pure zinc, and the gas tested as 

The great objections to Fresenius and Von Babo's test for arsenic is (1) 
that both the reagents used (chlorate of potash and hydrochloric acid) 
may contain the poison, and (2) that the chlorine and chloric oxide 
evolved, carry away with them a large portion of arsenic in the form of a 
volatile chloride. Except under special circumstances we consider its use 

D. {Process of Danger and Flandin.) — Cut up the tissues very fine. Act 
upon them with one-fourth their weight of concentrated sulphuric acid, 
and heat until the materials are thoroughly dry and charred. Treat the 
mass with boiling water acidulated with nitric acid, and evaporate to dry- 
ness, the residue being once more treated with dilute nitric acid, and again 
evaporated to dryness. Act now on the residue with water, and neutralize 
the solution with carbonate of soda. Evaporate to dryness, and having 
added to the residue a few drops of sulphuric acid, dissolve the arsenate of 
soda (as it now exists) in a little hot water. Reduce the arsenic salt with 
sulphite of sodium, and examine the solution with sulphuretted hydrogen 
and by Marsh's test. 

Throughout this process the distillates should be preserved and ex- 
amined for arseuic. 

E. (Odling.) — Thoroughly dry the tissue. Treat the mass with an 
equal weight of the strongest hydrochloric acid, and place it in a retort 
fitted with a Liebig's condenser, and connected with a well-cooled receiver 
containing a little water. Distil to dryness, and test the distillate for 
arsenic by the several tests described. This method will serve to detect 
arsenic in all its forms, except when it exists as an insoluble sulphide. 
The process depends on the extreme volatility of the chloride of arseni- 
cum. Chloride of antimony is difficult to obtain by distillation, whilst 
the chlorides of lead, copper, mercury, etc., are not volatile. 

Test the distillate by Marsh's test (page 148), by Reiusch's test (page 
151), and by BettendorfT's test (page 145). 


It is necessary here to note a few important facts — 

1. Arsenic is not as Orfila supposed a normal constituent of the body. 
Orfila's mistakes were due, as he afterwards admitted, to the use of an 
impure pyritic sulphuric acid. 

2. If a large quantity of arsenic is found after death, a large dose must 
have been taken; but, on the other haud, a very small quantity only may 
be found, and yet a large dose may have been taken. The quantity found 
after death, therefore, often gives no data by which to judge of the amount 
taken by the deceased. 

3. After about fourteen days, if the patient lives as long, the arsenic 
will probably have entirely passed out of the system and none be able to 
be detected in the viscera after death. 

Its entire evacuation may be effected according to Dr. Taylor, even after 
eight hours, whilst on the other hand, the period of its detention may pos- 
sibly be protracted. At any rate this is certain, if the poison is in the 
bodvat death, it is never lost. It has been found after fourteen and more 
years. I Vide the " Lancet," Jan. 20th, 1838, p. 593, case of the widow 

4. The quantity of the poison is estimated in the form of sulphide — 

100 grs. of As 2 S 3 — 80.48 of As 2 3 . 

5. Arsenic reacts on Trommer's test similarly to grape-sugar, hence it is 
important not to confound the two. 

6. It has been stated by French toxicologists that in some cases of 
exhumation, where arsenic was afterwards proved to be the cause of death, 
a peculiar alliaceous smell was noticeable, which was attributed by them 
to the development of arseniuretted hydrogen. This very probably is a 
mistake, and it certainly is not usually to be noticed in such cases. 

7. In exhumation cases, it is always advisable to examine some of the 
soil of the cemetery, which may contain arsenic, from its geological con- 
stitution. The quantity, if anv be present, should be carefully estimated. 
("Medical Times," July 27th,*1844, p. 216.) 

8. It may be advisable to examine all the antidotes that were adminis- 
tered, if arsenic be found, in order to meet possible objections. 

Arsenates of Soda and Potash. 

Both the arsenites of soda and of potash (liquor arsenicalis or liquor 
Fowleri, " tasteless ague drop ") are very poisonous. The arsenite of soda 
is used for cleaning metal, and has upon several occasions produced fatal 
results. What is known as "fly water" is generally a solution of the 
mixed arsenites of potash and soda. 

Arsenite of Copper. (CuHAs0 3 ). 
(Scheele's Green.) 

The copper arsenite is a green pigment and is largely used in the arts 
and manufactures, numerous shades being produced by its admixture with 
whitening or with zinc oxide. It is insoluble iu water, but soluble to a 
certain extent in the fluids of the digestive tract. 

Very bad effects have resulted from its use. It is largely used for paper 
hangings, and if these be unglazed the danger is considerable. ("Lancet," 
April 26th, 1862, p. 445 ; Nov. 8th, 1862, p. 517 ; Jan. 31st, 1874, p. 175. 
"Medical Times and Gazette," 1857, vol. i, pp. 177 and 520.) On more 
than one occasion we have found arsenic on the dust of books in a library 
hung with a green paper. The authors have found as much as thirty-five 


grains of arseuious acid on a square foot of paper. Poisoning symptoms 
have been produced in workmen by merely unpacking the green papers 
(" Medical Times and Gazette," May 10th, 1862, p. 497), whilst the paper- 
hangers often suffer severely from skin eruptions, especially on the scrotum, 
from oedema of the face, and in advanced stages from all the symptoms of 
arsenical poisoning. The evil effects are not so much due to the volatility 
of the arsenic, as some have imagined, although it is quite possible this 
may partially be a cause of the evil, but chiefly to the mechanical suspen- 
sion of arsenical dust in the air of the room. Arsenical symptoms, too, 
have been produced, in ballet dancers, through wearing green dresses 
("Medical Times and Gazette," April 11th, 1863, p. 374), by the use of 
green artificial flowers ("Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 30th, 1861, 
p. 560), by the use of the arsenite to color air-balls (" Medical Times and 
Gazette," May 22d, 1858, p. 529), by sucking green-colored wafers 
("Medical Times," Nov. 13th, 1847, p. 79), and by its use in confectionery 
("Lancet," Feb. 17th, 1849, p. 191, and Jan. 22d, 1853, p. 100, and Jan. 
31st, 1874, p. 175. See also Dr. Letheby's report on arsenical flowers and 
dresses, " British Medical Journal," Oct. 25th, 1862, p. 448.) No metallic 
coloring matter, whatever they may be, or however small the quantity, 
should be used in confectionery. Nor is there any need for it. We have 
lately examined some maguificent vegetable coloring matters (prepared 
chiefly from quercitron bark and Persian berries) manufactured by Mr. 
Bush of Liverpool Street. What is called Schweinfurt, emerald, or min- 
eral green is also largely used as a pigment. This is a double salt of 
arsenite and acetate of copper. A case is recorded of poisoning symptoms 
being induced by merelv handling and powdering cakes of this substance 
("Lancet," Dec. 14th, 1872, p. 854). 

The symptoms produced by arsenical wall and dress pigments are those 
of alteration in the blood and disturbance of the central nervous system. 
They are essentially the action of the arsenic and not of the copper (see 
paper by Dr. Kirchgiisser, of Coblens, " Vierteljahrschr.," ix, p. 96), and may 
often be found well marked in dressmakers who work at colored fabrics, 
as well as in the ladies who wear them constantly. The eyes and eyelids 
are generally first of all affected, the patient complaining of great debility, 
irritation, and dryness of the throat, perhaps even of diphtheritic symp- 
toms, a constant hawking up of viscid purulent sputa, cold sweats, nausea, 
colicky pains and rumbling in the bowels, more or less f'everishuess of an 
intermittent character, cramps in the legs and hands, epigastric tender- 
ness, sometimes salivation with even purulent saliva, and the symptoms of 
irritation of the mucous membranes generally. A green or clay-colored 
tinge may often be noticed over the skin, with brownish spots on the fore- 
head and cheeks. Sometimes urticaria supervenes. The hair frequently 
drops off. There is usually painful micturition, arsenic being found in 
the urine in six out of every eight cases. The liver is the part which is 
generally the most affected, whilst not uncommonly more or less severe 
jaundice occurs. 

Dr. Guy gives the particulars of a fatal case, and has described with 
singular accuracy the eruption of the skin that is often met with. It is 
in the first instance a papular rash running on to pustulation, appearing 
about the root ofthe nostrils, on the bends of the ears, elbow, thighs, etc., 
but especially on the scrotum, where superficial ulcers may be found, vary- 
ing in size from a split pea to that of a fourpenny piece, whilst sometimes 
the fingers will be found inflamed and the nails dropping off. A case is 
recorded of peculiar ulcerations on the anus being produced by the local 
use of a green paper dyed with arsenite of copper (" Lancet," July 12th, 
1873, p. 49). 


Lastly, arsenite of capper has been given with the view of procuring 
abortibu, but it* action is questionable. It would appear that the nervous 
symptoms produced when it is given internally are the chief points of 
iuterest in these cases. There is great irritability, loss of memory, faint- 
ings, quiverings of the muscles, and in some cases partial paralysis of the 
extremities, the muscles retaiuing, however, their susceptibility to the 
action of the electric current. The extent to which sensation is affected 
is not usually great. The touch and hearing are sometimes impaired, but 
not usually the sight. Headache is often troublesome. 


(1) Act on some of the coloring matter with a strong ammonia solu- 
tion, when it becomes of a deep blue color. Pour this blue solution over 
a crystal of nitrate of silver in a white capsule, and note that a yellow 
arsenite of silver is formed on the surface of the crystal. (Taylor.) 

(2) Dissolve some chloride of tin in hydrochloric acid ; heat to boiling. 
Add to this a small quantity of the coloring matter, when the metallic 
arsenic will be precipitated of a brown color. 

(3) Dissolve some of the coloring matter in hydrochloric acid, and test 
by Marsh's test. 

(4) Or any other tests for arsenic may be used. 

The post-mortem appearances and treatment are those described under 
arseuious acid. 

Arsenic Acid (As 2 5 ) and the Alkaline Arsenates. 

Arsenic acid is a white deliquescent solid, without smell, and soluble in 

It has a very acid reaction, and is reduced by the action either of a sul- 
phite or of sulphurous acid to arseuious acid. At a red heat it fuses and 
evolves oxygen. It is used as an oxidizing agent in the manufacture of 
anilin colors. This is the explanation of many of the cases of eruption 
caused by the use of magenta-colored socks and other wearing apparel. 
(See " British Medical Journal," Nov. 21st, 1874, p. 643 ; " Medical Times 
and Gazette," Feb. 27th, 1869, and April 17th, 1869.) Nor should it be 
forgotten that red liqueurs are occasionally colored with magenta. There 
are no cases on record of poisoning with arsenic acid in the free state in 
the human subject. Dr. Glover relates a case where a rabbit was poisoned 
with four graius in four hours. The alkaline arsenates are soluble in 
water, but the metallic arsenates are insoluble. The alkaline arsenates are 
active poisons. Christisou relates two cases of poisoning with them. The 
arsenate of soda is used in France as a medicine. "Pearson's solution" is 
a solution of the arsenate of soda (1 gr. to sj of water). " Mucquir's neu- 
tral arsenical salt" is a biuarsenate of potash. The well-known "papier 
moure" consists of paper soaked in a solution of arsenate of potash. 

Tests for Arsenic Acid. 

(1) It is not entirely volatilized by heat. 

(2) A sublimate of metallic arsenic is produced by heating the acid or 
its compounds with a reducing agent. 

(3) Nitrate of silver gives a reddish-brown precipitate, which is soluble 
in nitric acid and in ammonia, but is insoluble in acetic acid. 

(4) Sulphuretted hydrogen gives no immediate precipitate with arsenic 
acid even in concentrated solution as it does with arsenious acid, but after 


some time a light yellow precipitate falls which is insoluble in hydrochloric 
acid, soluble in ammonia and its carbonate, and yields a metallic sublimate 
when heated with reducing agents. (Hence it is advisable before treating 
an arsenic acid solution with H. 2 S, to reduce the arsenic acid to arsenious 
acid by treating it with sulphurous acid gas, or by heating with sulphite 
of soda.) 

(5) Ammonio-sulphate of magnesia (made by precipitating sulphate of 
magnesia with ammonia, chloride of ammonium being added to dissolve 
any precipitate that may form) produces with arsenic acid a precipitate of 
ammouio-arsenate of magnesia (NH 4 MgAs0 4 ), which is soluble in nitric, 
hydrochloric, and acetic acids, and sparingly soluble in ammonia. (This 
reagent does not precipitate arsenious acid, but it does phosphoric acid.) 
To prove the precipitate is arsenical it should be boiled iu hydrochloric 
acid with some strips of bright copper-foil. 

(6) With Reinsch's test arsenic acid gives on copper an iron-gray deposit, 
but the deposit is not nearly so characteristic as that produced with 
arsenious acid. 

(7) Ammonio-mlphate of copper produces a greenish-blue precipitate 
soluble in ammonia, in nitric, and in excess of free arsenic acid. 

Arsenic acid is best estimated as ammouio-arsenate of magnesia: 100 
grs. — 63.53 of arsenic acid. 

Orpiment (As 2 S 3 ). 

(Sulphide of arsenic ; yellow arsenic ; King's yellow.) 

This being a bright-yellow pigment is largely used for coloring pur- 
poses. It has been used by mistake for turmeric in coloring confectionery, 
and with fatal results. It is important to remember that white arsenic is 
converted into orpiment in the body, but that orpiment cannot be changed 
back into white arsenic. Orpiment owes its poisonous properties to the 
variable proportions of white arsenic that it contains. As much as 79 per 
cent, is reported to have been found. 

In conducting a toxicological examination — 

1. Examine the stomach for the characteristic color of the poison. 

2. Dissolve the powder iu ammonia and reprecipitate with hydrochloric 

3. Examine this precipitate (vide page 147) as directed. 

4. If much organic matter be mixed with it, heat the materials with 
strong nitric acid to dryness, thus converting it into arsenic acid, and pro- 
ceed accordingly (page 147). 

Realgar (As 2 S 2 ). 

(Red arsenic ; sandaracha.) 

Used also as a coloring matter, and is very poisonous. 

Chloride of Arsenic (AsCl 5 ). 

This is prepared by dissolving arsenic in dilute hydrochloric acid, and 
was originally used in medicine. It is very poisonous. 

Arseniuretted Hydrogen (AsH 3 ). (Page 148.) 

This is a very poisonous gaseous compound, and probably the most dan- 
gerous of all the compounds of arsenicum. 


It has proved fetal in several cases. It is inflammable, and may easily 
be detected in other gases by Marsh's test (page 148). 

Iodide of Arsenicum (Asl 3 ). 

This is prepared either by triturating the metal with dry iodine, aiding 
combination with slight heat, or by boiling the metal with iodine for some 

It has a brick-red color, no smell, but a strong metallic taste. It sub- 
limes readily. It is soluble in a large bulk of water, forming an acid 
lemon-colored solution, which becomes deep brown on prolonged exposure 
to air. It is decomposed if thrown into water, provided the quantity be 
insufficient for its solution. It is readily decomposed by mineral acids. 

Its physiological action in poisonous doses is very similar to arseuious 
acid. It is also a cumulative poison. 

In Dr. A. Todd Thomson's experiments ("Lancet," October 27th, 1838, 
p. 180) one drachm killed a dog in two and a half hours, the oesophagus 
being tied, the symptoms (pain, convulsions, emprosthotonos, and at last 
insensibility i setting in after four minutes. Half a drachm, dissolved in 
four ounces of water, injected into the abdominal cavity of a dog, killed it 
in about twelve minutes. A similar quantity injected into the thorax 
killed in fifteen minutes ; forty grains killed a dog when it was inserted 
into a wound, and fifteen grains injected into the jugular vein killed in 
twenty seconds. Given by the mouth (the oesophagus not being tied) the 
animal vomited the poison and recovered. 

The post-mortem appearances show, that the iodide softens and gelat- 
inizes the mucous membrane of the stomach, and occasionally causes 
ulceration. It may be found after administration in all the secretions, 
even in the milk. Dr. A. T. Thomson, believed it to be, in small doses, a 
very valuable medicine. 

Cases of Poisoning by Arsenic and Arsenical Compounds. 

CASE 1.—" Lancet," February 1st, 1840, p. 706. Female: xt. 25 (?). A pennyworth (?). 
Symptoms. — In two hours nausea and pain. 
Result. — Death on fourth day. 

Psl-mortem. — Stomach externally appeared white, but internally was softened and ulcerated; in- 
testines inflamed ; liver soft. 

CASE 2.— "Lancet," December 7th, 1839, p. 416 (Dr. Burne). Female: adult. Four pills, each con- 
taining one-twentieth of a grain, taken during four days. 

Symptonu. — On the fourth day inflammation of the stomach; delirium; swimming of eyes, and 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.—" Lancet," May 15th, 1841, p. 315 (Mr. Michael Foster). Female : at. 37. Dose (?). 

5 nplonu. — Local action not excessive; but nervous excitement intense. 

Result. — Death in three hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach, intestines, and bladder inflamed. 

CASE 4.—" Lancet," May 15th, 1841, p. 305 (Mr. Michael Foster). Female : a3t. 1\i. Dose (?). 

8ymptonu. — Almost complete narcotism; intense inflammatory symptoms. 

Result. — Death in two hours. 

PK<st-mor(rm. — Stomach, intestines, and bladder inflamed; the appearances more intense than in 
the last case. 

CASE 5.—" Lancet," May 15th, 1841, p. 305 (Mr. Michael Foster). .£1. 5 months. Dose (?). 

Symptoms. — Intense irritant symptoms. 

Result. — Death in six hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Inflammation very intense. 

CASE 6. — "Lancet," July 6th, 1844, p. 707 (from "American Journal of Medical Science.)." Male: 
adult. A lunatic! A teaspuonful. 

.<limpt'nns. — Vomiting in half an hour; paralysis set in after some days, for which strychnia was 
administered, after which he entirely recovered, both from the poison and the lunacy! !! 

Result. — Recoverv. 


CASE 7.—'* Lancet," 1836-37, vol. ii, p. 626 (Mr. Page). JEt. 3}.£. Eight grains. 

Symptoms. — No symptoms set in for four days ; death. 

Result. — Death on fifth day. 

CASE 8.—" Lancet," November 4th, 1848 (Mr. Fox). Male. A teaspoonful. 

Symptoms. — No symptoms for six hours; when vomiting, purging, aud drowsiness set in, but no 
paiu, or tenderness of abdomen. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 9.— "Lancet," October 2d, 1S52, p. 299 (Mr. Bryant). Male: ret. 30. Sij. 

Symptoms. — No symptoms for two or three hours, and then not severe (emetics, stomach-pump, 
and peroxide of iron used). The man was an habitual drunkard. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 10-— "Lancet," November 2d, 1844, p. 154 (Dr. Kelso). Female: set. 8. Arsenic 5j-5ij mixed 
with oatmeal. 

Symptoms.— Vomiting, pain, and heat in one hour and a half; in four hours and a half the symp- 
toms much increased in severity (peroxide of iron given). 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 11.—" Lancet," November 30th, 1S44, p. 2S2 (Mr. Underhill). Male. Two tablespoonfuls. 

Symptoms. — Syncope ; no sickness peroxide of iron given). 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 12.— "Lancet," November 30th, 1844, p. 282 (Mr. Underhill). &t. 3. Arsenic with oatmeal. 
Symptoms. — Ordinary symptoms (peroxide of iron given). 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 13.— " Lancet," November 30th, 1844, p. 282 (Mr. Underhill). Female : cet. 31. Two penny- 
Symptoms. — Symptoms set in in half an hour; iron given. 
Result.— Death. 

CASE 14.—" Lancet," November 30th, 1844, p. 282 (Mr. Underhill). Eight children ate cakes con- 
taining arsenic. (Peroxide of iron given.) 
Result. — All recovered. 

CASE 15. — Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 251. (Case of Loftbouse.) 
Symptoms. — Symptoms set in whilst the cake which contained the poison was being eaten. 
Result.— Death. 

CASE 16. — Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 251 (Mr. Todd's case). 5j on empty stomach. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms commenced in two hours. 

CASE 17.— "Medical Times."- August 30th, 1851, p. 229 iMr. Jeffryes). Female: set. 39. Arsenic 
taken in the solid form in a pudding, probably put in by mistake for egg powder. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms immediate ; complete collapse in two hours; no vomiting or purging; death 
without any convulsions. 

Result. — Death in three hours. 

Post-mortem. — Post-mortem in forty hours; stomach very inflamed, especially at the pyloric 

CASE 18.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 256 (Mr. Thompson). Male : tet. 17. Large 

Symptoms. — Symptoms of tetanus. 

Result. — Death in twenty minutes. 

CASE 19.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i,p. 277. "Bradford Lozenge Case," November, 
1858. "Medical Times and Gazette," November 6th, 1S5S, p. 476, and December 25th, 1858, p. 657. 
Arsenic used by mistake to adulterate luzenges instead of plaster of Paris. 

Symptoms. — Over two hundred persons attacked; seventeen died— twelve from acute poisoning 
and five from the secondary effects. 

Result. — Deaths. 

CASE 20.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 253. Female: at. 24. Large dose — over Sj. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms set in in one to two hours; they were not severe. 

Result. — Death in about two hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach internally inflamed; mucous membrane raised, and thickened, having 
broad, livid patches upon it. 

CASE 21.—" Medical Times," October 21st, 1848, p. 26 (Mr. Clegg). Female : set. 17. About a tea- 
Jipoonful. (The girl was an opium-eater, and this explains, no doubt, delay in symptoms.) 

Symptoms. — Bad symptoms set in in twenty-three hours; she was sick once previously, hut had no 
distress, no pain, vomiting, or diarrhoea; extreme narcotism. 

Result.— Death in twenty-three hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Mucous coat of stomach much corrugated, and both stomach and intestines in- 
flamed; arsenic found. 

CASE 22.— "Medical Times and Gazette," April 12th, 1851, p. 413 (Dr. Ryan). Male. Sss. taken 
in porter. He had been previously intoxicated for a week. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms commenced after nine hours with vomiting; the patient slept during this 

Result.— Death in three days. 


CASE 23. — " Flan din Toxieologie," vol. i, p. 510. Female. A small quantity taken in soup daily 
for six weeks. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting after every meal, leading to great irritability of the stomach and general 
emaciation; nervous irritability ; spitting of blood; the patient recovered when the cause was dis- 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 24.— " Lancet," January 2d, 1847, p. 44 (Br. Letheby). Female; at. 19. Two and a half 
grains taken in two ounces of fly-water at night. 

Symptom s — Restless during the night ; in the morning had pain, vomiting, and thirst ; afterwards 
rallied, but coma eventually came od. 

Result. — Death in thirty-sis hours. 

Post-mortem. — Brain congested; lungs natural; heart flabby, and valves ecchymosed ; stomach 
pale, and nearly empty ; pyloric end of a gamboge yellow tint. 

CASE 25.— "Ann. d'Hyg.," 1852, vol. i, p. 41S (M. Chevallier). 

Post-mortem.— Stomach perforated at the larger end ; aperture about an inch diameter, round, soft, 
and thickened at the margin ; no redness about it, or appearance of ulceration on other parts. 

CASE 26.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 254. Female: set. 9. Arsenical ointment 
rubbed on scalp to kill vermin. 

Symptoms. — No symptoms until the fifth day ; on the eighth day cramp, diarrhoea, but no vomit- 
iDg; drowsiness. 

Result.— Death on the tenth day. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach inflamed ; arsenic found in the stomach and liver. 

CASE 27. — "Taylor," vol. i, p. 2-55. Eight children. Arsenical vapors let into a room. 

Symptoms. — AH the children suffered; the infant, after being in the room an hour, had pain, vom- 
iting, and purging, and died; a canary died ; the other children recovered. 

Result. — Death in twenty-four hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and intestines inflamed; brain and lungs congested ; lining membrane of 
trachea bright red. 

CASE 2S.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 263- Male : adult. Large dose. 
Symptoms. — Symptoms set in very soon. 
Result. — Death in three hours. 

Post-mortem. — Intestines and stomach inflamed ; arsenic found in the stomach, liver, and kidneys; 
the poison found as low down as the csecum. 

CASE 29.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 269. " Atlee Family " (bodies exhumed after 
a mouth). "Lancet," February 24th, 1S54. Female. 
Result. — Death after several days. 
Post-mortem. — No arsenic found in the stomach or bowels, but in the lirer. 

CASE 30.— "Edinburgh Monthly Medical Journal," December, 1857, p. 481 (Sir R. Christison). Male. 
Arsenic given homicidally in whisky punch. 
Result. — Death in five to seven hours. 
Post-mortem. — Ninety to one hundred grains was found in stomach. 

CASE 31.— "Lancet," April 12tb, 1845, p. 413 (Mr. Alison). Female: at. 13. Two teaspoonfuls in 
two doses, with an hour's interval. 

Symptoms. — Violent pains in throat and stomach; (ferric oxyhydrate was administered, also mag- 
nesia and castor oil). 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 32.— " Lancet," February 1st, 1845, p. 139. Male: set. 21. Workman in candle factory where 
arsenic was used. 

Symptoms. — Some of the arsenic was absorbed through a wound. 

Result. — Death in three days. 

CASE 33.—" Lancet," June 7th, 1845, p. 640 (Mr. Woodcock). Female adult. Teaspoonful and a 

Symptoms. — Taken on an empty stomach ; vomiting set in in fifteen minutes, and continued for 
forty-eight hours; paralysis of the hands and feet. Recovered in eight or nine days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 34.— " Lancet," September 29th, 1838, p. 54 'Dr. Murray). Male : set. 22. Fifteen grains. 
Symptoms.— Vomiting in one hour (hydrated peroxide of iron administered). 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 35.—" Lancet," October 6th, 1S38, p. 103 (Mr. Rayner). Female. Dose (?). Supposed to have 
been taken in treacle. 

Resuli.— Death. 

Post-nvyrtem. — The body was exhumed, and two or three drachms of the sulphide found. 

CASE 36.— "Lancet." November 24th, 1838, p. 324 (M. Deville). Female: set. 19. Sixty-six grains 
mixed with 12-5 grains of sulphate of baryta. 

Symptoms. — In one hour vomiting, and heat in throat (four hours later the hydrated peroxide of 
iron was adminisered freelyj. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 37.— " Lancet," March 13th, 1841, p. 882 (Mr. Thompson). Male: set. 18. Quantity {?). 

Symptoms. — Cramps; no particular abdominal tenderness; death. 

Result. — Death in ten hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and intestines very inflamed ; brain and lungs gorged with black blood. 

CASE 38.— " Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," xxxiii, p. 67 (Sir R. Christison). Three 
persons took one grain in wine. 
Symptoms. — Serious symptoms for twelve hours. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 39. — " American Journal of Medical Science," vol. xi, p. 61. Male. Sixty grains taken with 
cinchona-bark powder. 
Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 40.—" Wibmer," vol. i, p. 278. Male. Took 3iss. after a very hearty meal. 
Symptoms. — Vomited freely ; and was well in four days. 
Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 41. — "London Med. and Phys. Journal," xlvi,p. 467. Male. A quantity taken after a heavy 

Symptoms. — Severe symptoms. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 42.— "Medical Times and Gazette,'' April 18th, 1857, p. 389 (Dr. Geoghegan). Male. Large 

Result.— Death on sixteenth day. 

Post-mortem. — No arsenic found on analysis. 

CASE 43.— "Cours de Med. Leg.," p. 121. Female: set. 56. A solution used to cure the itch. 

Symptoms. — Erysipelatous eruption induced; had great suffering: general tremor of limbs. 

Result.— Death in two years. 

CASE 44.— " British Medical Journal," January 25th, 1873, p. 88 (Mr. Morley). Fifteen persons 
taken ill by eating a pudding in which a baking powder that was used contained arsenic. 

Symptoms. — All had pain in the stomach and back ; blood was vomited in one case ; the conjunc- 
tiva injected in all ; in one case there was irritation of the skin. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 45.— "Medical Times," June 10th, 1843, p. 169. Three hundred* grains. 

Symptoms. — As usual ^emetics, and large doses of nitrate of potash in decoction of mallows ad- 
ministered I. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 46.— "Medical Times," July 29th, 1843,p. 288. Female: e?t. 32. One hundred and twenty 

Symptoms.— (Iron preparations given); no intense symptoms set in for three days. 

Result. — Death on sixth day. 

CASE 47.—" Lancet," March 29th, 1862, p. 325 (Dr. Wilks). Male : tet. 36. Sss. of arsenic. 

Symptoms. — Usual symptoms. 

Result. — Death in twelve hours. 

Post-mortem. — Blood fluid on both sides of the heart; mucous membrane of stomach intensely in- 
flamed at the pyloric end ; small intestines inflamed in patches ; colon much contracted. 

CASE 48.—" Lancet," June 18th, 1864, p. 697 (Dr. Bingley), and June 25th, 18G4, p. 732 (Dr. Ellis). 
Female: set. 40. Dose (?). 

Symptoms. — Vomiting, and cramps in the legs ; went to sleep, and was afterwards found dead. 

Result. — Death. 

Post-mortem. — Arsenic found. 

CASE 49. — "Christison," p. 328 (Desgranges). Female. Arsenical ointment applied to bead. 
Symptoms. — Poisoniug symptoms, including a papular eruption. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 50.— "Christison," p. 329 (Desgranges). Boy. Arsenic used as a face powder. 
Symptoms. — Poisoning symptoms. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 51. — "American Journal of Medical Science," July, 1851, p. 259. JEt.2. Arscnious acid 
and gum applied to the head. 
Symptoms. — Purging; tenesmus; paralysis of the lower extremities. 
Result. — Death iu thirty-six hours. 

CASE 52.— "American Journal of Medical Science," July, 1858, p. 77 (Dr. W. C. Jackson). Male: 
aet. 28. Sij on empty stomach. 

Symptoms. — In two hours slight vomiting occurred, but the majority of the poison was not got rid 
of for six hours after it had been taken ; then pain set in, which lasted for six hours. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 53.— "Christison," p. 308. Male. One ounce. 

Symptoms. — Two or three fits of vomiting, but very slight pain or heat in the stomach. 

Result.— Death in eight hours. 


CASE 54 — "Christlson," p. 308. Female. Over Sss. 

Symptoms.— Very slight diarrhoea or pain ; death preceded by convulsions. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem.— Stomach and intestines healthy. 

CASE 53.— "Christison," p. 308. Female: set. 14. Ninety grains. 

Symptoms. — Vomited once or twice, but had very little pain. 

Result. — Death in five hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and intestines healthy. 

CASE 56.— "Christison," p. 308, "Revue MGdicale," 1822. Male. Dose (?). The man was a 

Symptom*.— Perfectly tranquil for five hours, when he vomited, and a few minutes iater expired. 

Result. — Death in about five hours. 

CASE 57.— "Christison," p. 308 (Orfila). Male: adult. Siij. 

Symptoms. — Walked about for some time; afterwards took an emetic, which produced free vomit- 
ing, but had no pain for five hours ; died in four hours after. 

Result. — Death in nine hours. 

CASE 58.— Orfila, "Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 397 (Prof. Chaussier). Male: adult. Large quantity. 

Symptoms. — Intense feebleness, and tendency to faint ; no other symptoms. 

Result. — Death in a few hours. 

Post-mortem. — No post-mortem appearances in stomach or intestines. 

CASE 59. — "Journal de Medecine," lxx, p. 89 (M. Laborde). Female. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting was induced by emetics; very little pain ; coma came on, from which she 

Result— Death. 

Post-mortem. — A clot of blood found in the stomach. 

CASE 60.— " Christison," p. 310 (Dr. Choulant). Female. A thimbleful in soup. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting, but no pain. 

Result.— Death in eleven hours. 

CASE 61. — " London Medical Cbirurgical Transactions," vol. ii, p. 134 (Dr. Roget). Female. 5j. 

Symptoms. — Violent symptoms for twenty-four hours; for the next twelve hours she improved ; 
after which convulsions and nervous affections set in, which lasted for seventeen days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 62.—" Lancet," January 16th, 1849, p. 35 (Mr. Cornish). Male: adult. One ounce of arsenic 
mixed with flour and baked in a cake ; taken on a full meal. 

Symptoms.— Insensibility ; vomiting; (stomach-pump used, and hydrated oxide of iron given); re- 
covered in fifteen days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 63.— " Lancet," January 16th, 1849, p. 35 (Mr. Cornish). Female: adult. One ounce of ar- 
senic mixed with flour, and baked in a cake; taken on a full meal. 

Symptoms, — Vomiting ; pain. 

Resu it. — Rec o v e ry . 

CASE 64. — " Lancet," July 7th, 1849, p. 1 (Mr. Knott). Male. Arsenic (about Sss.) in brandy and 

Symptoms. — Appeared for a short time to get better, but the bad symptoms returned; (hydrated 
peroxide of iron given.) 

Result. — Death in six hours. 

Post-mortem. — Gangrenous state of the lower half of the oesophagus; stomach along greater curva- 
ture and at pyloric end gangrenous; rest of the stomach uninjured. 

CASE 65.— "Lancet," September 22d, 1849, p. 311 (Dr. MeGee). Female: set. 10. Rat poison (over 
ten grains of arsenious acid). 

Symptoms. — Emetics given before serious symptoms set in ; chalybeates afterwards. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 66.— "Lancet," August 22d, 1846, p. 216 (Mr. Houghton). Female. Sss. of arsenic. 

Symptoms. — Great mental excitement set in in three-quarters of an hour, but no vomiting, pain, o 
diarrhoea; vomiting set in afterwards; after which she felt disposed to doze ; great depression fol- 
lowed (stomach-pump used and hydrated oxide of iron given); died in twelve hours; no gastric 
symptoms, or cramp, cerebral, or spinal symptoms occurred. 

Result— Death in twelve hours. 

Post-mortem.— Bright red patch on the pyloric end of the stomach; mucous membrane not being 
in the least destroyed. 

CASE 67.—" Lancet," December 18th, 1847, p. 651 (Dr. Barnes). Family consisting of male : adult. 
Female: adult. Male: set. 9. Male: set. 3. Male: aet. X%. Female : ffit. 4)^. Female: a?t. 6. Arsenic 
takeu in rhubarb pudding. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms as usual. 

Result. — Two recovered, the rest died. 

Post-mortem. — Inflammation in intestinal canal in all; stomach inflamed in 5 easps; duodenum 
inflamed in 5; jejunum ino; ileum intensely inflamed in 1; eolou in 5 ; rectum inl; ecchymosed 
spot on the heart in 1 ; blood black, thin, and fluid in all ; kidneys congested in 4 ; bladder empty in 
4 ; liver congested in 2. 


CASE 6S.—" Lancet," October 19th, 1844, p. 103 (Mr. Areent). Female. 5ss. of arsenic after a meal. 

Symptoms. — After eight hours pain, vomiting, and purging set in (stomach-pump used). 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 69.— "Medical Times and Gazette," December 10th, 1853, p. 612 (Dr. Mitchell). Male. Arseni- 
cal soap rubbed on scrotum and axil he. 

Symptoms. — Difficulty in swallowing after twelve hours; testicles became enlarged; vomiting, 
purging, and violent pain in stomach ; recovery in a fortnight. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 70.— "Christison," p. 299 (Mr. Macaulay). 5vij. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms set in in three hours; the man slept between taking the poison and the 
commencement of the symptoms. 

Result— Death in nine hours. 

CASE 71. — "Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," lix, p. 350 (Dr. Dymock). Female. 3ij. 

Symptoms. — After two hours and a half got up from her bed, sat down on her chair, and died in- 

Result. — Death in two hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach marked with scarlet patches. 

CASE 72.— "Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," xxxvi, p. 94. Three-quarters of an ounce 
taken after a meal. 

Symptoms. — No serious symptoms; free vomiting induced. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 73.— "Medical Times," August 26th, 1848, and "Provincial Journal," June 28th, 1848, p. 347 
(Dr. Castle). Female. 3ss. of liquor Fowleri taken in the course of five days = three grains As. a 3 . 
Symptoms. — No vomiting or purging ; death by syncope. 
Result.— Death on fifth day. • 
Post-mortem.— Stomach and intestines inflamed; heart flabby; arsenic found. 


CASE 74.— "Taylor on Poisons," p. 378. Three hundred and forty children drank the water from 
out of a boiler that had previously been cleansed with arsenite of soda. Each took about one grain. 

Symptoms. — Many suffered severely. 

Result. — All recovered. 

CASE 75.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 273. Male. Drank beer from a pewter pot 
which had been cleansed with the arsenite. 

Symptoms. — Acute symptoms. 

Result.— Death. 


CASE 76.— "Galtier," vol. i, p. 636. Male : set. 3. Swallowed a capsule full of the arsenite, used by 
his father as a pigment. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms of colic in half an hour, followed by acute symptoms (liyd rated oxide of 
iron administered). 

Result.— Recovery in twenty-four hours. 

CASE 77.—" Galtier," vol. i, p. 636. Male : set. 1. Several pieces of arsenite of copper cake eaten. 

Symj>(oms.— Immediate vomiting; afterwards purging. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 78.— "Medical Times," April 28th, 1849, p. 507 (Mr. Bully). Two children poisoned by con- 
fectionery colored with the pigment. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms severe. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 79.—" Lancet," March 5th, 1859, p. 237 (Dr. Rose). Male : 9 months. Sucking green paint 
(Scbeele's green). 

Symptoms. — Very severe vomiting; purging; symptoms of collapse. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 80.— "Lancet," December 1st, 1860, p. 535 (Dr. Letheby). Male : set. 3J^. Arsenic frem wall 

.Symptoms. — Convulsions. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 81— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i,p. 274. Two children. Colored confectionery 
picked up in street = two to three grains. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms as usual. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 82.— "Regina v. Franklin and Randall," "Taylor," p. 274, vol. i. Male. Given in blanc- 

Result.— Death. 


i ASS B8.— "Casper," pane 73. Mule: ret. 2)4. Cake of green color. Pose i'.m. 

Jesuit— Death Id five hours. 

TASK S4.— " Lancet," September 3d, 1870, p. 356 (Dr. Sicks). Male; set. 4$. From a paper which 
he had been engaged, iu strippiug oil* the walls. 

Symptoms. — Violent symptoms; suppression of urine. 

Result. — Reco v ery . 

CASE 85.— "British Medical Journal," November 31st, 1861, p. 59S. Female: set. 19. Artificial- 
flower maker. 

Symptoms. — Greenish vomit; pains in stomach. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Arsenite of copper found in lungs, liver, and mesenteric glands; stomach highly 


CASE S6. — "Beitrage zun Geriehtlichen Arznerkunde," vol. iv, p. 221 ^Sir R. Christison, p. 284). A 
large quantity given by a druggist. 


CASE 87. — "Christison," p. 286, " Regina p. Burdock." Female. Orpiment containing 79 per cent. 
of white arsenic. 
Result.— Death. 

CASE SS.—" Medical Times," October 17th, 1847, p. 62 (Dr. Patersonl. Female. 5j of king's yellow. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in two to four hours (hydrated peroxide of iron given •; patient died of 
chest affection on the third day. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Lungs engorged; the stomach had patches of dirty green-colored mucus adhering to 
its tuner surface, but was not ulcerated or inflamed. 

CASE 89.— Taylor's ''Medical JurisprudeDce," vol. i, p. 277, "Clifton Bath Bun Case," December, 
1859. Orpiment used instead of chromate of lead to color buns. 

Syjnptoms. — six persons suffered severely. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 90.— "Wharton and Stille's Medical Jurisprudence," p. 434. Male: adult. Orpiment used 
instead of turmeric in porridge. 

Symptoms. — Severe symptoms. 

Result. — Death in twenty-four hours. 

CASE 91.— "Wharton and Stille's Medical Jurisprudence," p. 434. Male: child. Orpiment used 
instead of turmeric in porridge. 

Symptoms. — Severe. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 92.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 278. Female. M. xxx in twenty-three 
hours = 0.1 gram. 
Symptoms. — Symptoms severe. 
Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 93.— "Lyon Medicale," March 27th, 1870 (Dr. Valette). Male: set. 30. Breathed hydrogen 
contaiuing arsenic from beiug prepared from impure zinc and acid. 

S : . /upturns. — Vomiting and purgiug; bloody urine (hydrated oxide of magnesia administered); 
arsenic found in urine. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 94.— "Lyon Medicale," March 27th, 1S70 (Dr. Valette). Male. Breathed hydrogen made 
from impure zinc and acid. 

Symptoms. — Similar symptoms to last case, but no urine passed for twenty-four hours; an eruption 
of papules occurred in this case. 

Result. — Death on thirteenth day. 

CASE 9o.— "Chemical News," December 26th, 1S63. Male: set. 22. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms set in in one hour; all the symptoms of arsenical poisoning. There was an 
intermission ol" symptoms for two hours. 

Result. — Death in five days. 

CASE 96.— "Dublin Journal of Medical Science," vol. xx, p. 422 (Dr. O'Reilly). Case of Mr. 
Brittain. Caused by preparing hydrogen with impure acid for breathing purposes (= to 12 grains of 

Symptoms.— After second inhalation, seized with giddiness ; passed two ounces of bloody urine and 
afterwards bad pain and vomiting; no urine passed; jaundice. 

Result. — Death on the seventh day. 

Post-mortem.— Pleura contained two pints of red serum ; lungs healthy; kidneys of an indigo blue 
color; stomach inflamed in patches ; bladder empty. 


CASE 97.— Buchner's "Toxicologic," p. 476 (.case of Geylen). Died whilst experimenting with the 

Symptoms. — No history on record. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 98. — "Repertorium fur die Pharmacie," vol. lxix, p. 271 (Dr. SchlinderV One half cubic 
inch (a quantity corresponding to one-eighth of a grain of arsenic) inhaled in forty minutes. 

Symptoms. — Very severe symptoms; giddiness in three hoars; pain; loss of muscular power; 
vomiting; great pain in kidneys, and constant desire to pass water, the urine being reddish-brown ; 
recovered in seven days; but after three weeks had a pustular eruption about the prepuce, which 
was not quite well for seven weeks. 

Result.— Recovery. 

Other Cases of Poisoning by Arsenious Acid, etc., are also recorded as follows : 

"Medical Times and Gazette," September 13th, 1851, p. 294. (Liquid fly poison. Death.) 
April 26th, 1862, p. 446. > Arsenical r^^ 

May 3d, 1S62, p. 471. i r F 

" " July 19th, 1S62, p. 72. (Use of arsenical sheep-wash. Death.) 

" " April 11th, 1857, p. 36S_ (Arsenic and antimony. Death. i 

" " January 24th, 1857, p. 62. (Arsenic taken to produce abortion.) 

" " April 25th, 1857, p. 412. (Arsenic not fouud on analysis. 

"British Medical Journal," January 17th, 1874, p. 84. » (Deaths from quack pills, containing 
" " March 14th, 1S74, p. 355. f arsenic.) 

"Medical Times and Gazette," January 10th, 1S74, p. 52. (Arsenical papers.) 

" Medical Times," October 21st, 1843, p. 39. (Inhalations insidiously inducing death. Golding Bird.) 
" October 25th. 1845, p. 94 (Mr. Adams). (Several cases, i 

" May 23d, 1846, p. 162. (Norfolk cases of poisoning.) 

" April 10th and 17th. 1847, pp. 144 and 158. (Burton-on-Irwell cases.) 

" June 5lh and 12th, 1847, pp. 303 and 322. (Kensal New Town case.) 

" November 20th, 1S47, p. 107. (Sheridan's case.) 

" August 5th, 1S48, p. 221. (Bristol cases.) 

"Medical Times and Gazette," vol. i, 18-57, pp. 177 and 520. (Wall paper.1 

" British Medical Journal," March 5th 1864, p. 276. (Death from arsenic applied to scalp.) 

" " " Octobar 6th, 1866. p. 395. (Death from ointment applied to ilium.) 

" Lancet," December 14th, 1839, p. 451. (Case of Louis Mercier.) 

"Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," vol. ii, p. 251. (Symptoms set in in eight minutes.) 

" Annnles d'Hygiene," 1837, vol. i, p. 344. (Symptoms set in in seven hours.) 

" Medico-Chirurgical Review," January, 1854, p. 294. (Symptoms commenced in five or six hours.) 

" Flandin," vol. i, p. 535. (Arsenic found in stomach in a cyst of mucous membrane.) 

"Medical Gazette," vol. xvi, p. 790. (Salivation occurred.) 

"Orfila's Toxicologic, " vol. i, p. 449. (Lockjaw in three-quarters of an hour.) 

" Medical Gazette," vol. xlvii, p. 181 . 

"Casper, N. S. S.," vol. ii, pp. 70, 71, 72. 

" Medical Gazette," November 24th, 1848. 

" Pharmaceutical Journal," July, 1870, p. 60. (Arsenical wall papers.) 

"Guy's Hospital Reports," October, 1850, p. 183. 

"Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 255 (death in two hours), and p. 268. 

"Medical Gazette," xlviii, p. 446. (5ss. ; no pain; death in fifty hours.) 

" Annates d'Hygiene," 1847, vol. ii, p. 367. (Death on sixth day.) 

"Lancet," July 11th, 1863, p. 47. Queen t\ Williams. \ 

"Union Medicals," June 30th, 1850 <Soufflard '•. v (No poison found after death.) 

"Horn's Vierteljahrs.," 1865, vol. i, p. 175. .> 

"London Medical Gazette," August 16th, 1850, pp. 46,291. (Case of Ann Merritt.) 

"Pharmaceutical Journal," July 27th, 1S72, p. 75. (Death very rapid.) 

"Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 271. (Twenty grains found in stomach eighteen 
months after death.) 

Reg. v. Madeleine Smith, "Medical Times and Gazette," July 18th, 1857, p. 66. (Eighty-eight grains 

Reg. v. Dodds, " Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," p. 71. (One hundred and fifty grains found.) 

Reg. v. Hewitt (I863i, "Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," p. 271. (One hundred and fifty-four 
graius found.) 

Reg. v. Holmes 'I860), "Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," p. 272. (Death in seven days.) 

Reg. v. Newton, " Lancet," August 30th, 1856, p. 262. 

" Lancet," July 9th, 1S53, p. 41. (Arsenic found after twelve years' interment.) 
" July 28th, 1849, p. 99. (Arsenic found after eight years' interment.) 

"Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," i, p. 271. (Arsenic found after fourteen years' interment.) 

"London Medical and Physiological Journal," xlix, p. 117. (Symptoms set in in eight minutes.) 
" " " xxviii, p. 347. (Death in thirty-six hours.) 

"Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," xiii, p. 507 (epileptic fits); xvii, p. 167. (Partial 

" Lancet," November 3d, 1866, p. 506. (Arsenic in the water used for making tea.) 



Araenita of copper. 

•Cut's Hospital Report*." October, 1S50. p. 21 v> 
' Medical Gazette," vol. xliii, p. 301. 
"Edinburgh Monthly Journal," July, 1851, p. 

i Uedlcal Repository," January, 1819. 1 . 

• British Medical Journal," August 30th, 1873, p. 268. } Areen « e ° f P° tash and »*»• 



(Bi = 210: sp. gr. 9.8: fusing-point 264° C.) 

Bismuth is generally found native. It is a hard, brittle, volatile, crys- 
talline (rhombs) metal. It burns when heated in air. Nitric acid dis- 
S"l\t'< it freely. It is used in preparing "fusible alloy," a mixture very 
valuable to the die-sinker, from its property of expanding considerably as 
it cools : 

Bismuth Sesquioxide ( yellow), 
Bismuth Peroxide (brown), 
Bismuth Nitrate, 
Bismuth Chloride, 
Bismuth Sulphide, 

It is necessarv that we should notice the 

Bi,0 3 = 468. 

Bi£>. = 500. 

Bi3l N0 3 ) + 5H,0 = 396 + 90. 

BiCl 3 = 316.0. 

Bi,S, = 516. 

BUmuthic Nitrate (Bi3(N0 3 ) + 5H,0). 
(Pearl White, Magistery of Bismuth.) 

This is prepared by dissolving bismuth in nitric acid. If this solu- 
tion be poured into water, the "trisnitrate," as it was formerly called, is 
thrown down. The "trisnitrate" is, in reality, a white, basic oxynitrate 
(Bi NO,)H,0). It is largely used both medicinally, and as a face paint, 
under the name of pearl white. It is worth remembering by those that 
use it for the latter purpose, that a trace of sulphuretted hydrogen, such 
as may even be present in common gas, or be developed from boiled 
vegetables, will change its color. 

Orfila found that the soluble portion of fifteen grains of the nitrate 
injected iuto the jugular vein of a dog caused immediate staggering and 
death in eight minutes, whilst forty grains given internally, killed a dog 
in twenty-four hours. Of the trisnitrate two drachms and a half killed a 
dog in twenty-four hours, the poison being found upon analysis in the 
liver, spleen, and urine. The stomach was in each case red, and ulcerated 
spots were apparent. 

The nitrate is no doubt itself an irritant poison ; but its frequent con- 
tamination with arsenic and carbonate of lead mav account for mauv of 

Fig. 20. 

the symptoms that have been described as occasioned by it. Dr. Taylor 
?ays that he found arsenic in three samples, purchased at respectable 
druggists, only two specimens in five being free from it. Well-described 
cases are on record, where violent salivation has taken place from the 


medicinal administration of five grains ("Lancet," Jan. 11th, 1840, p. 
584), and of seven grains of the nitrate ("Lancet," Jan. 25th, 1840, p. 

Tests for Bismuth. 

1. If bismuth compounds be heated on charcoal with carbonate of soda 
in the reducing blowpipe flame, a bright, brittle, metallic bead, having a 
yellow incrustation, is produced (Fig. 20). 

2. Sulphuretted hydrogen gives a black precipitate (Bi 2 S 3 ), insoluble in 
sulphide of ammonium, but soluble in hot mineral acids. 

3. The alkalies give a white precipitate of the hydrated oxide (BiH 3 3 ), 
insoluble in excess of the precipitant. 

4. Solutions of bismuth, if not too acid, give a white precipitate when 
mixed with water. This precipitate is not soluble in tartaric acid, but is 
soluble in excess of nitric and hydrochloric acids. 

5. Chromate of potash gives a yellow precipitate, soluble in dilute nitric 

6. Iodide of potassium gives a deep brown precipitate. 

Cases of Poisoning by Nitrate of Bismuth. 

CASE 1.— "Christison," p. 495. Male: adult. Sij of trisnitrate. 

Symptoms. — Burning in throat; pain; purging; vomiting; cramps; suppression of urine; saliva- 
tion on the fifth day ; delirium on the sixth day. 

Hesvlt. — Death on ninth day. 

Post-mortem. — The whole alimentary tract gangreDOUs, but especially marked at the rectum ; kid- 
neys and brain healthy. 

CASE 2.— "Traill's Outlines," p. 115. (Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 321.) Male: adult. 
5vj of trisnitrate. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting ; pain. 

Result. — Recovery. 



Twenty grains of the oxide was found to induce vomiting in a dog, but 
that is all. In the form of iodide it is used as an outward application, 
having a similar therapeutic action to iodide of lead, without staining the 
skin. The sulphate is recommended as an autisyphilitic. 


(Ce = 92.) 

Cerium, given in doses of three drachms of the chloride, produced no 
effect on a dog. The oxalate is used in medicine in one or two-grain doses, 
as a local sedative and nervine tonic. It is said to be useful in the vomit- 
ing of pregnancy, aud in dyspepsia generally. In nervous diseases, such 
as epilepsy aud chorea, it has been found useful. Sir James Simpson was 
the first who suggested its use. 


(Cr = 52.5. Sp. gr. 6.8.) 

Chromium is chiefly obtained from chrome iron stone (FeOCr v 3 ). It 
is a steel-gray, hard, and brittle metal, soluble in hydrochloric acid. 

All the salts are colored ; and hence the name Chromium (/jjaitia). All 
the chromium compounds are poisonous; it will, however, be sufficient to 
deal in detail with but one, viz., the dichromate of potash. The chromate 


of lead is yellow, aud much used as a paint; but its poisonous action is 
principally due to the lead that it contains : 

Chrotnous Oxide (brown). CrO. 

Chromic Oxide (green), ..... Cr 2 0. t . 
i Used as a paint ; the coloring principle of the 

emerald and ruby.) 
An Oxide corresponding to the Magnetic Oxide 

of Iron, . CrOCr,0 3 - 

Chromic Acid, ....... CrO :) . 

eliminate of Potash (yellow), .... K.C'rO,. 

Dichromate of Potash (red), .... K.^CrO.CrO,.. 

Chroma te of Lead, PbCrO t . 

Dichromate of Potash (KX'rOJOrO.^). 

This is a red transparent salt, crystallizing in four-sided tables, and' 
soluble in about teu parts of cold water. It fuses below redness. It is 
not used by English physicians; but Burness aud Mavor r on the continent, 
have advocated its use in secondary aud tertiary syphilis, as well as in 
some hepatic cases. The dichromate, however, is largely employed by the 
dyer; and owing to its common use in this and other trade operations, it 
will be necessary to examine its action in some detail. It is commonly 
called Bichromate. 

In acute poisoning it is found to act as a powerful irritant. There is 
usually constant and violeut purging, the stools being of a peculiar clay 
color, aud painful vomiting of yellowish matters. The pupils are dilated.. 
There are violent cramps in the legs, and the general depression produced 
is extreme. The urine is either suppressed or in small quantity and 
purulent. The periosteum generally is swollen and painful. The action 
of the poison is specially marked on the mucous membranes. Two 
drachms has caused death in four hours;, but a case of recovery is re- 
corded after a dose of two ounces. 

The experiments of Gmelin on animals are important. One grain in- 
jected into the jugular vein of a dog had no apparent effect; four grains 
caused death in six days; ten graius caused iustaut death, by paralyzing 
the heart. Introduced under the skin, a drachm caused death in six days, 
vomiting and palsy of the hind legs being the prominent symptoms. In 
one of the dogs an eruption appeared on the skin, and the hair fell off. 

As regards the morbid anatomy,, the effects are those of an irritant 
poison. The mucous membrane of the stomach will be found inflamed or 
destroyed, or marked with patches of dark-red discoloration, the blood 
being black, and very thin. But its poisonous action (as is the case with 
most irritants) may be indirect, aud entirely coufiued to the nervous 
system, aud in such cases no well-marked post-mortem appearances may 
be observed. 

The treatment must consist iu the administration of emetics (if required), 
and the free use of carbonate of magnesia or lime, iu milk. 

Chronic Poisoning. 

The effects produced on workmen engaged in the bichromate manu- 
facture, a business of very considerable commercial importance, require 
consideration here. 

From the researches of JIM. Becourt and Chevallier, we learn that no 
effect is produced on the health of the men engaged merely in the manu- 
facture of the neutral chromate. But when the acid is added, at a boiling 



temperature, in order to convert the chromate into a bichromate, a num- 
ber of fine particles are carried up, and are in this way dispersed through- 
out the workshop in which the operation is being conducted. The men 
usually become affected after they have worked for about a week, in the 
first instance complaining of a bitter nauseous taste in the mouth, of great 
irritation of the nasal mucous membrane, with incessant sneezing, of an in- 
creased secretion of tears, and even sometimes of severe conjunctivitis. If 
the work be continued, these symptoms increase, until at last the mucous 
membrane ulcerates, and even destruction of the septum nasi results. 
There is, however, one very common symptom observed, and that is chronic 
sores on the hands, shoulders, and feet. So long as the skin is sound, 
these do not form readily ; but directly there is any lesion of the skin, the 
caustic action of the poison becomes apparent. One of the authors has 
noticed in a workman engaged in the bichromate business ulcers about the 
nose, mouth, feet, hands, and trunk, but particularly about the scrotum 
and penis, which, except from the man's history, and from the absence of 
any green color about the ulcers (and which, however, is not constant), 
would have been difficult to diagnose from those found on workmen 
engaged in the manufacture of arsenical green colors. These sores go on 
to form large ulcers, with hardened edges. (Vide "New Sydenham Soc. 
Year-Book," 1859, p. 439; and 1863, p. 457.) 

The sponging the throat with nitrate of silver solution, and the internal 
use of corrosive sublimate, constitute efficacious remedies. 

Tests jor Chromium and its Salts. 

1. Heated in the borax bead, they impart to it a magnificent green color. 

2. Heated on platinum, with the blowpipe flame, with nitre and sodium 
carbonate, a yellow mass (KNaCr0 4 ) is formed, soluble in water, the solu- 
tion giving a yellow precipitate (PbCrOJ, with acetate of lead. 

3. No precipitate is produced with sulphuretted hydrogen. 

4. Sulphide of Ammonium gives a green precipitate of the hydrated 
sesquioxide (Cr,0 3 , 3H 2 0). 

5. The Fixed Alkalies give a green precipitate (CrH 3 3 ), soluble in ex- 
cess, but reprecipitated on boiling. 

[Note. — In this way chromium, iron, and aluminium salts maybe sepa- 
Ferric hydrate is insoluble in fixed alkalies, cold or hot. 
Chromium hydrate is soluble in cold, but insoluble in hot. 
Aluminium hydrate is soluble iu both.] 

6. A Salt of Lead gives a bright yellow precipitate (PbCrOJ. 

Toxieologieal Analysis. 

In a toxieologieal examination after poisoning by the dichromate, prob- 
ably the red color of the solution will materially guide us; but it may not 
unlikely be found to have assumed a greenish tint from the reduction of 
the chromic acid by the organic matter. The stomach and its contents, 
and other solid matters, should be well digested in water, acidulated with 
hydrochloric acid, boiled, and filtered, and the filtrate tested. 

Cases of Poisoning by Bicliromate of Potash. 

CASE 1.— "Christison," p. 496 (Dr. Scbiodler). Male: adult. Quantity (?). 

Symptoms. — After vomiting had been induced, the patient seemed to recover, but became worse 
next day, with purging, pain iu the kidneys, aud retention. Extreme depression. 
Result.— Death in 54 hours. 
Post-mortem. — Stomach healthy ; kidneys gorged with blood ; bladder empty. 


CASE 2.— "Medical Times," March I6th aud 23d, 1844, pp. 435, 456. Male: set. 64. Quantity (?). 
Found dead in the morning. 

Symptom*.— No Bigna that he had vomited or had been purged; gastritis not severe; narcotic 
bj mptoms chiefly. 

Result. — Death in twelve hours. 

Post-mortem.— Brain healthy; dilated pupils; no well-marked post-mortem appearances; the poison 
evidently killed by indirect action on the nervous system. 

CASE 8.— "Guy's Hospital Reports, 11 October, 1850, p. 216 Mr. Bishop of Kirkstall). Male. 

Symptoms. — Pain ; vomiting; dilated pupils; cramps. 

Result. — Recovery in four days. 

CASE 4— Horn's" Yierteljahrsschrift," 1S66, vol. ii, p. 113. Female: tet. 24. A dose laken to pro- 
cure abortion. 

Symptom*.— Pain ; vomiting; purging. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 5.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 323 (Mr. Wood). Female: adult. 5ij. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and purging of yellowish matters. When first seen was apparently dying, 
pulseless, and unconscious. 

Result.— Death in four hours. 

Post-mortem.— Blood dark and liquid ; mucous membrane of stomach dark-brown, and destroyed in 
parts; part of small intestines much inflamed. 

CASE r>— "Lancet," February 10th, 1872, p. 210 (Dr. Andrews). Male: set. 37. Sij iu solution. 

Symptoms. — Cramp; vomiting; purging; dilated pupils. 

Result. — Recovery in nine hours. 

CASE 7.—" Lancet," February 11th, 1854, p. 152 (Mr. Heathcote). Male: set. 30. Worked in a fac- 
tory where bichromate was being crystallized. 

Symptoms, — Sore throat, with ulcers; great exhaustion. 

Result. — Reco v l- r y . 


(Co = 58.7. Sp. gr. 8.5.) 

Cobalt is a reddish-white metal, aud when found (for it is rare) is always 
combined with either sulphur, arsenic, or nickel. It is used for the pur- 
pose of giving a blue color to glass. Smalt is a powdered glass, colored 
blue with oxide of cobalt; Zaffre is an impure oxide; Rigman's Green is 
a mixture of oxide of cobalt with oxide of zinc. Given to dogs, thirty 
grains of the oxide proved fatal in a few hours; whilst three grains of the 
sulphate injected into a vein proved fatal in four days. 


1. Sulphide of Ammonium gives a black precipitate of sulphide of co- 
balt (CoSi, which is insoluble iu hydrochloric acid, but soluble iu nitro- 
hydrochloric acid. 

2. Potash gives a blue precipitate (CoH./X), insoluble in excess. 

3. Ammonia gives a blue precipitate, soluble in excess, and becoming a 
reddish-brown liquid, the solution being aided by the addition of chloride 
of ammonium. 


(Cu = 63.5. Sp. gr. 8.95.) 

Copper is found native ; but it is, as a rule, obtained commercially either 
from copper pyrites (Cu.,S, Fe,S 3 \ or from a green carbonate (Malachite, 
CuCO,, CuO, H.,0), or from the blue carbonate (2(CuC0 3 )CuO, H 2 0). 

Copper is found in sea-water aud sea-weeds. Its presence in laud plants 
has been proved to depend on its existence in the manure used for the land 
on which they were grown. 

Copper, as with many other metals, is said not to be poisonous in the 
metallic state. Halfpence are said to have been swallowed without ill re- 
sults following, although even this is not always the case. ("Medical 
Times," Nov. 9th, 1844, p. 119.) On the other hand, the breathing the 
finely-divided metal, such as the bronze-dust used in painting, has proved 
very injurious, although this may be accounted for by the readiness with 
which the metal in such a state cau become oxidized. 


Copper is a red, very malleable, ductile metal, and when rubbed gives 
out a peculiar coppery odor. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity. 
If heated in the presence of air, black scales of cupric oxide form upon 
it. If kept in moist air for any time, it becomes covered with the green 
carbonate (verdigris). Pure water has no action upon it. It is not solu- 
ble in cold sulphuric, or even in boiling hydrochloric acids ; but it is solu- 
ble in hot sulphuric acid, fumes of sulphurous anhydride being given off. 
Nitric acid also dissolves it readily, red fumes of nitrous anhydride being 

Copper is largely used in the manufacture of cooking utensils and for 
alloys, such as brass (2 of copper and 1 of zinc), bronze, bell-metal, Ger- 
man silver, etc. It is used for sheathing ships, whilst many of its salts 
are used in medicine, and in the arts as paints and pigments. 

The salts of copper, like those of nickel and iron, are colored, generally 
either blue or green, turning white when dried. They are all poisonous, 
except, perhaps, the sulphide. They are nearly all soluble in water, and 
in dilute acids. 

The method of testing the copper-foil, used in Reiusch's test, to prove 
its freedom from arsenic, is important ; for a little copper is nearly always 
dissolved by the acid liquid, and commercial copper is rarely free from 
arsenic. Its purity may be tested as follows: 

(o) If clean copper strips be boiled with pure hydrochloric acid for some 
time, without any apparent tarnish, the copper may be considered pure. 

(,5) Place ten grains of the copper in a small glass retort, and heat 
with about twenty grains of precipitated peroxide of iron, and excess of 
hydrochloric acid. Distil to dryness into a little water. If any arsenic 
existed in the copper, it will be detected in the distillate, where it will be 
present as a chloride. 

Cuprous oxide, ) n ^ 1 l0 

or Red Oxide, . . | W> — !«■ 
Cupric Oxide J QQ = g 

or Black Oxide,. . j 

Cupric Sulphate, . . CuS0 4 , 5H,0 = 159.5 + 90. 
Cuprous Sulphide, . . Cu.S = 159. 
Cupric Sulphide, . . CuS = 95.5. 

Cupric Nitrate, . . Cu2X0 3 + 6H 2 = 187.5 + 108. 

B Th$S donate, \ XC-OQ.) + CuO, H,0 = 247 + 79.5 + 18. 

Gre ?r / C T? e f ° re 1 (CuC0 3 ) + CuO, H 2 = 1 23.5 + 79.5 + 18. 

(Malachite), . . j v 3/ ' ! 

Cuprous Chloride, . . CuCl = 99. 

Cupric Chloride, . . CuCL, 2H 2 = 13-4.5 + 36. 

Cuprous Iodide, . . Cul = 190.5. 

Cuprous Oxide, or Bed Oxide of Copper. 
(Cu. 2 = 143.) 

The red oxide is found native, or it may be formed artificially by warm- 
ing a mixture of grape-sugar, sulphate of copper, and potash solutiou, 
when a copious yellow, or red precipitate of the cuprous oxide (Cu 2 0) will 
be formed. 

Cupric Oxide, or Black Oxide of Copper. 
(CuO = 79.5.) 


The black oxide is formed either by heating copper in air, or by heating 
nitrate of copper in a crucible; or it may be precipitated as a hydrate, by 
adding potash to a solution of one of its salts. 

Sulphate of Copper, or Cupric Sulphate. 

I CuS0 4 + 5HX) = 159.5 + 90.) 

(Eoman Vitriol, Blue Vitriol, Blue Stone, Blue Copperas, Vitriol of 


Sulphate of copper is usually found in the form of large blue crystals. 
It is soluble in four parts of cold, and in two of boiling water, the solu- 
tion having an acid reaction. If blue vitriol be heated to 205° C. it loses 
its water of crystallization, and becomes colorless, in which state it is ex- 
ceedingly hygroscopic It is largely used in calico-printing. It will fre- 
quently be found to contain traces of arsenic, which it is important to 
remember if arsenic be found in the contents of the stomach, after the 
administration of sulphate of copper as an emetic. 

Sulphide of Copper. 

(CuS = 95.5.) 

The sulphide is thrown down when sulphuretted hydrogen, or sulphide 
of ammonium is added to a solution of a copper salt. 

Nitrate of Copper. 

(CuZNO, + 6H 2 = 187.5 + 108.) 

The nitrate is a blue deliquescent salt, and is much used in the manu- 
facture of fireworks. 

Carbonate qfcoppt r • natural verdigris) is formed on copper by the action 
of air and water. Malachite is also a carbonate. 

The acetates of copper (artificial verdigris I, which are the common copper 
pigments, differ much in composition, and contain variable proportions of 
the neutral acetate and carbouate. They are only partially soluble in 
water, but are freely soluble in free acids. 

Symptoms of Aeide Poisoning. Dose, etc. 

In full poisonous doses the copper salts produce the ordinary symptoms 
of irritant poisons. The patient complains immediately of the styptic 
coppery metallic taste of the poison, and of the burning heat in the throat. 
The vomiting of blue or green colored matters is an early symptom. The 
vomit may possibly contain pieces of the copper salt. Much has been said 
about the possibility of confounding bilious vomiting with the vomiting of 
copper poisoning. If, however, a little ammonia be added to the vomit, 
no chauge will result if it be bile ; but if it be copper, a deep blue color 
will be immediately produced. The patient within from fifteen minutes 
to half an hour will complain of severe headache, thirst, and dizziness. 
The pulse will be found small and irregular, and the body bathed in per- 
spiration. Severe purging and tenesmus with intense colicky pains and 
troublesome eructations, complete or partial suppression of urine, spasms, 
and cramps of the extremities, are ordinary symptoms ; whilst in severe 
cases convulsions, tetanus, and complete insensibility may occur. Jaun- 
dice is, however, the specially diagnostic symptom of'copper poisoning, and 
is nearly always present. It is never met with either in poisoning by 
arsenic or by mercury. 



It is stated that a purple line, of a somewhat permanent nature, may 
be seen round the gums a short time after the poison has been swallowed. 
A green line is seen in malachite workers. 

Sulphate of copper was once deemed an active agent in producing abor- 
tion, and in the popular mind is still believed to have considerable power. 

What quantity of copper will prove fatal? Death has been caused by 
one ounce of the sulphate. No doubt less than this, however, would poison, 
although recovery is recorded after an ounce, or even more. With the 
facts before us of such large doses producing in some cases no well-marked 
effects, it is strange when we read of bad symptoms resulting from the use 
of a brass injection apparatus ("Lancet," Sept. 18th, 1869, p. 426), and 
from other causes, where the amount of copper present is almost homoeo- 

Death has occurred in as soon as four hours, whilst it has been delayed 
for three days. 


If vomiting be not present, encourage it by draughts of warm water. 
The stomach-pump may be used, if necessary. Milk, mixed with sugar 
and white of egg, should be given freely. The albumen produces an in- 
soluble albuminate of copper, upon which the acid juices of the stomach 
have little or no action. (Orfila, Shrader, and Duval.) 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

The body externally will usually be noticed to have a distinct yellow 
tinge. Upon opening the stomach and intestines, their contents will gen- 
erally be found to be of a greenish blue color; and upon touching them 
with ammonia, the tint will become greatly intensified. The lining mem- 
branes of the stomach and intestines are usually inflamed and thickened. 
In the stomach, the mucous membrane may be found softened, destroyed, 
or even ulcerated and gangrenous. In the small intestines perforations 
have been noticed, the escape of the contents setting up peritonitis. The 
rectum has been found ulcerated, and the lungs usually are congested. 

Experiments upon Animal*. 

The experiments upon animals with copper salts demand notice, inas- 
much as they prove that in whatever way copper may be introduced into 
the system, its action as a poison is violent. It acts not merely as an irri- 
tant poison when swallowed, but is equally energetic when injected into 
the blood, paralyzing the action of the heart, and in this manner causing 
death. Even its mere application to a wound has been fatal : 

Dose, etc. 

How administered. 




12 grains of Verdi- 

By the mouth 

Death in 22 

Stomach very 

gris (Drouard i. 



little inflamed. 

2 grains of Verdi- 

Injected into 

Vomiting in 7 

Death in 30 

No morbid 

gris (Drouard). 

jugular (dog). 


minu tes. 


O.o grain of Ver- 


On the 3d day 

Death in 4 

digris (Drouard). 


paralysis of 
the hind legs. 


6 grains Sulphate of 

By the mouth 

Death in 30 

No inflamma- 





1 gram of Acetate 

Injected into 


Death in 10 

No post-mor- 

of Copper (Orfila). 

vein (dog). 


tem appear- 


Twelve to fifteen grains of the acetate, the authors have found, usually 
proves fata] to dogs within one hour of its being administered, with con- 
vulsions and tetanus. Experiments prove that when the copper salts are 
given in large doses, they art as true irritant poisons. Their action, tow- 
ever, is far more energetic when they are introduced directly iuto the 
blood ; and it is then that the other operation of the poison (for its action 
is double) is specially manifested ; viz., its power "of exhausting muscular 
irritability, and occasioning death by paralyzing the heart." 

Chronic Copper PoUoning. 

From the numerous uses to which copper is applied in every-day life, 
chronic poisoning by it is not very uncommon. Some of the causes that 
have produced it are as follows: 

From keeping orange-flowers and other distilled waters, and oils such 
as Cajeput oil, iu copper vessels, or in vessels colored with copper. 

From its use in pickles and iu preserved fruits, to give them a green 

From its use in colored confectionerv ("Medical Times," Sept. 14th, 
1844, p. 495; "Lancet," Februarv 17th and 24th, 1849, pp. 191, 216- 

From its presence in the water found in the neighborhood of copper 
mines, i Existing as a sulphate from the gradual oxidation of the pyrites.) 

From its presence in notable proportion in various mineral waters (with 
arsenic) (0.5 gr. per gallon), as in those of Schwalbach aud Pyrmout 

From the use of a copper teakettle ("Medical Times aud Gazette," 
September 10th, 1859, p. 265), aud of copper vessels used for culinary 

From the use of lemon-juice that has been kept in copper tanks. 
" Medical Times aud Gazette," June 20th, 1868, p. 658.) 

From the use of green wrappers for farinaceous foods. ("Medical 
Times," June 3d, 1843, p. 158.) 

From the use of inferior gold, such as is used by the cheap dentists for 
supports of artificial teeth, the action of the saliva producing soluble 
copper salts. 

From the use of sulphate of copper as an adulterant of bread, which is 
added for the purpose of promoting the fermentation of the dough, to pre- 
vent loss, and to give it additional whiteness. 

From the manufacture of artificial flowers, where copper salts are used 
as pigments. (" Medical Times and Gazette," June 20th, 1868, p. 658.) 

From the inhalation of anhydrous sulphate of copper, flying about 
workshops where it is used, in a state of minute subdivision. ("British 
Medical Journal," May 27th, 1865, p. 543.) 

From trades where copper has to be filed and handled, as e.g., copper- 
smiths (" Medical Times and Gazette," June 20th, 1868, p. 658); watch- 
makers (" Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 9th, 1861, p. 488), etc. 

From the external application of substances containing copper, such as 
the handling of arsenite of copper, a pigment largely used in the arts, etc. 
Workers in malachite also suffer. 

M. Blandet states that in copper workshops, after fusing days, the men 
frequently suffer from various symptoms of poisoning, which end in a 
slightly feverish reaction. These last symptons, however, M. Blandet 
attributes particularly to the zinc that is mixed with the copper to form 
bronze. It may further be noted here that copper-works have proved, 


owing either to careless work, or to want of proper appliances for conden- 
sation, a serious nuisance to the neighborhood, from the escape of a white 
smoke ("copper smoke"), which coutaius arsenic, and which is very inju- 
rious both to animal and vegetable life. 

Action of Water and Articles of Food on Copper. 

In connection with chronic copper poisoning, it is important to note the 
results of the experiments of numerous investigators, amongst whom must 
be mentioned Falconer, Drouard, Eller, Orfila, and Christ ison, on the 
action of water and of articles of food generally on copper. The facts 
may be thus summarized : 

1. Distilled water has no action upon clean copper, if air be excluded, 
even when kept in contact with it for weeks I Falconer and Drouard) ; but, 
on the contrary, if air be present, and the water be boiled in contact with 
the copper, then a certain quantity of copper is sure to be dissolved by 
the water. 

2. Water containing a large amount of saline matter, and especially 
chlorides, nitrates, and sulphates, is more likely when boiled in contact 
with copper to dissolve the metal than if the water be chemically pure. 

3. Water, containing a quantity of common salt in solution, if boiled 
in copper pans, readily acts on the metal ; but it is asserted that if at the 
same time fish or meat be boiled in the water, none of the copper will be 
dissolved. (Eller. — The truth of this is questioned by Orfila. | 

4. Milk, tea, coffee, aud beer, according to Eiler, and water containing 
cabbages, potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, rice, and barley, according to 
Falconer, have no action on copper vessels when boiled in them. 

5. All acid solutions, such as vinegar, acid wines, etc., all matters con- 
taining acids, such as rhubarb, fruits, etc., all fatty aud oily matters, 
especially the volatile oils and rancid oils, when boiled in copper or in 
brass vessels, aud allowed to cool, are certain to dissolve some of the 
copper, a green color being imparted to the food. 

6. It is, however, well-established: 

(a) That if an acid solution be boiled in a perfectly clean copper 
vessel, and poured out when hot (that is, not allowed to cool in 
contact with the copper), none of the metal will be dissolved. 

(,S) But that if the copper vessel be not perfectly clean, the mere 
boiling the acid solution will be sufficient to contaminate it. 

(j) That if the acid liquid be allowed to cool in contact with the 
copper, although the vessel be perfectly clean, some of the 
metal is certain to be dissolved. (Falconer and Proust.) 

7. It has been suggested to line the copper vessels used in the kitchen 
witli a mixture of lead and tin. This, however, soon wears off; and there 
is always a fear, when two metals are thus brought into contact, that gal- 
vanic action will be set up, and solutiou consequently aided thereby. 

8. Xo copper vessels should be used for culinary purposes, as there is 
scarcely any article of food likely to be cooked in them that does not con- 
tain either an acid or fatty matters of some kind. Cast iron is very 
preferable to copper. 

9. Lastly, it may be worth noting that symptoms of lead poisoning 
may result from the tin that is used for tinning the vessels containing lead 
as an impurity ; aud arsenical symptoms from the copper similarly contain- 
ing arsenic. 


Symptoms of Chronic Poisoning. 

In whatever way minute quantities of copper may be introduced into 
the system for a considerable period, chronic poisoning is likely to result. 
The premonitory symptoms are lassitude and giddiness, headache, a loss of 
appetite, constant thirst, and an ever-present metallic taste in the mouth. 
Extreme muscular debility, a constant desire to vomit, and diarrho?al 
motions of a dark color, come on after a longer or shorter time ; but acute 
colic and local paralysis are as rare in chronic copper poisoning, as they 
are common in chronic lead poisoning. Further, it is stated that copper- 
workers enjoy a peculiar immunity from cholera and choleraic diarrhoea. 
An early symptom that has been usually observed is a change in the color 
of the skin (a kind of jaundice^, accompanied by free perspirations of a 
bluish-green color which stain the shirt of the patient. Dr. Perron has 
noticed a green or bronzed stain on the teeth of watchmakers and others 
engaged in filing the metal ("Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 9th, 
1861, p. 488) ; and Dr. Clapton likewise records similar stains in copper- 
workers generally, as well as a green line around the margin of the gums, 
due, he considers, to the actual absorption of the poison. ("Lancet," Oct. 
16th, 1869, p. 543.) Other observers, however, have not noticed this line 
even in well-marked cases of copper poisoning. Sir D. Corrigan states 
that in nearly all cases, he has noticed a peculiarly characteristic retrac- 
tion of the gums, the edges of which appear of a purple color. (" Dublin 
Hospital Gazette," Sept. 1855.) The hair is said sometimes to turn of a 
green tint ; and not uufrequently a vesicular eruption has been noticed 
about the roots of the hairs on the pubes. 

The treatment will be suggested by the symptoms. One thing is cer- 
tain, that all treatment will fail unless the cause of the mischief be aban- 
doned. Milk is said to be a prophylactic ; and Dr. Perron advises that 
those engaged in filing copper should wear mustaches. ("Medical Times 
and Gazette," Nov. 9th, 1861, p. 488.) 


1. Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives even with acid solutions of copper, or 
its salts, a brown-black precipitate, which turns a greenish-black when 
dried. It is insoluble in caustic alkalies, but is soluble in hot concentrated 
hydrochloric acid, and in dilute nitric acid, when a blue solution results. 
By exposure to moist air, the sulphide becomes sulphate. 

To test the Precipitate : 

Dissolve by heat in dilute nitric acid. Evaporate to dryness, dissolve the 
residue in water, and test for copper with ammonia, with ferrocyauide of 
potassium, etc. 

(Note. — Neither nickel, chromium, uranium, nor cobalt are precipi- 
tated by H 2 S in acid, or neutral solutions.) 

2. Ammonia gives — 

(a) With strong copper solutions, a bluish-white amorphous precipitate. 

This is soluble in excess of ammonia, when a deep purple-blue 

liquid is formed (CuO, 2NH 3 ). 

(/?) With dilute copper solutions no precipitate is formed, but the 

liquid turns of a deep blue color. 

Caustic Potash has no action on the blue solution, even when added in 

great excess ; but free cccids, added in excess, destroy the color. The color- 


less liquid thus produced, after the acid is added, ma} - then be further 
tested for copper, with potassic ferrocyanide. 

(Note. — With Nickel, ammonia gives a green precipitate, soluble in ex- 
cess, the solution being blue, and reprecipitated on the addition of caustic 

With Chromium, ammonia gives' a grayish-blue precipitate, soluble in 
excess, the solution being pink. 

With Uranium, ammonia gives a yellow precipitate, insoluble in excess. 

"With Cobalt, ammonia gives a blue precipitate, soluble in excess, the 
solution being reddish-brown.') 

3. Ferrocyanide of Potassium gives — 

(a) In strong solutions of copper salts, a red dish -brown gelatinous 

precipitate of ferrocyanide of copper. 
(,5) But in dilute solutions the liquid merely turns of a rich claret 


The precipitate is sparingly soluble in ammonia, aud is insoluble in the 
mineral acids, in acetic acid, or in excess of the precipitant. 

(Note. — Uranium also gives a brown precipitate, with ferrocyanide of 

4. Iron Test. — Immerse a piece of bright iron or steel (a large darning- 
needle answers the purpose very well) in a solution of a copper salt, when 
the iron gradually acquires a coating of metallic copper. Some of the 
iron dissolves, and forms a salt with the acid previously combined with the 

Fe + CuSO, = FeSO, + Cu. 

If there was enough copper in the solution, all the iron would in time 
be dissolved, and a hollow copper cylinder left. In dilute copper solutions 
the deposition is much facilitated by the addition of either a little hydro- 
chloric or sulphuric acids. 

To further test the deposit on the needle, it must be removed, and the 
copper coating well washed with water. It may then be acted upon with 
a little ammonia, which, by exposure to air, will dissolve it, a deep blue 
solution being formed. Acidify this with acetic acid, aud test the color- 
less solution for copper with ferrocyanide of potassium. 

Orfila suggested the use of phosphorus instead of iron or steel, but it is 
not nearly so manageable. 

5. Galvanic Test. — Acidulate the copper solution with hydrochloric acid, 
and place it in a platinum dish. A piece of bright zinc is then to be put 
into the solution, when the copper will be deposited on the platinum as a 
brown stain, wherever the zinc touches it. 

A little ammonia, with exposure to air, will dissolve the stain thus 
formed, the solution becoming blue, which may then be further tested by 
first decolorizing with acetic acid, and then adding ferrocyanide of potas- 

6. Blowpipe Test. — Salts of copper mixed with carbonate of soda, and 
heated on charcoal in the reducing blowpipe flame, yield globules of me- 
tallic copper, which are of a red color and very malleable. These may 
be dissolved in nitric acid and tested accordingly. 

7. Color Tests. — Salts of copper heated in the inner blowpipe flame 
impart a brilliant green color to the outer flame. 


We must note several other reactions of copper, none of which however 
are of ranch importance. 

1. The fired Caustic Alkalies give a blue amorphous precipitate of the 
hydrated oxide (CuO, H 2 0), insoluble in excess of the precipitate, and 
turning black when boiled. 

Ami here, it is to be noted, that if some bodies, such as grape-sugar, be 
present, the copper is soluble in excess, forming under these circumstances 
a deep blue solution, from which the copper is thrown down as a yellow 
suboxide (Cu,0) by boiling. 

2. The soluble ( 'arbonates give a greenish-blue amorphous precipitate of 
the hydrated oxycarbonates, soluble in excess. 

3. Arsenite of Potash gives in neutral solutions a bright green precipi- 
tate of arsenite of copper (Scheele's greenj, soluble in ammonia and in 
free acids. 

4. Ghromate of Potash gives with strong solutions a reddish-brown pre- 
cipitate, and with dilute solutions a greenish-yellow precipitate, soluble in 

~k Ferrieyanide of Potassium gives a brownish-yellow amorphous pre- 
cipitate, soluble in ammonia and insoluble in acetic acid. 

6. Iodide of Potassium gives a brownish-green precipitate, soluble in 

Quantitative A nalysis. 

The quantitative estimation of copper may be effected by weighing it as 
an oxide. 

(a) Heat the solution to boiling and precipitate with ctuistic potash. 
Cool the liquid and collect the precipitate on a filter; wash, dry, ignite, 
and weigh. If the filtrate still has a blue color, proving that more copper 
is present, boil with grape-sugar, and throw the copper down as Cu 2 0, 
which must then be collected, washed, moistened with nitric acid, evapor- 
ated to dryness, and the residue obtained ignited, and added to the pre- 
cipitate formed with the caustic potash : 

100 grains of CuO = 314.21 of CuSO, + 5H.O. 
= 371.43 of Cu2N0 3 + 6H,0. 
= 120.25 of CuS. 

0?) Or the precipitated sulphide may be dried and weighed: 

100 grains of CuS = 261.1 of CuSO, + 5H 2 0. 

= 309.52 of Cu2NO s + 6H,0. 
= 82.15 of CuO. 

Toxicoloaieal A nab/sis. 

Previously to describing the process to be adopted in toxicological in- 
vestigations, it is important to note that some observers, and particularly 
Sarzeau, have asserted that copper is a normal constituent of both plants 
and animals, and is always to be found in the blood, as well as in coffee, 
wheat, cinchona bark, etc. These views were held by others besides Sar- 
zeau, as by Orfila, Henry, Devergie, and Meissner, but were opposed by 
Flandin and Danger, Chevreul, Christison, etc. 

Boutigny, who has investigated the subject with great care, asserts that 
copper is never found in flour, wine, or cider, unless it is present in the 
manure used in raising the wheat, grapes, or apples. He asserts that the 
street manure from towns nearly always contains a trace of copper; and 
he concludes, that if copper be present in the animal body, it is not as a 


normal constituent, but is introduced either by the use of copper vessels 
in cooking, or by vegetables that have been fed with a manure containing 
it. Fortunately the amount found has never exceeded the tjoVbo' part, 
whilst it is often as little as the 3Tfo'ooo tD> It ' s scarcely likely, therefore, 
to be a fallacy. 

It may be well to note, moreover, that copper has been found by M. 
Pliers Reynaert in the ash of filter-papers. 

In conducting a medico-legal examination, it must be remembered that 
copper may be present in the stomach both in an insoluble as well as in a 
soluble form, inasmuch as certain organic principles, such as albumen and 
the mucous membrane of the stomach itself, will throw down an oxide of 
the metal. As a rule, however, all the forms in which it will be found 
are soluble in acids. In examining the contents of the stomach, it is ad- 
visable to scrape it thoroughly, in order to remove the insoluble portions 
adhering to the mucous membrane. Organic liquids containing copper 
are generally of a greenish-blue color. 

Proceed as follows : 

(1) Dilute the contents of the stomach with sufficient water, that they 
may filter easily. Acidulate with hydrochloric acid, and after allowing 
them to stand for some hours and shaking frequently, filter. 

Pass sulphuretted hydrogen through the clear filtrate, and throw down 
the copper as a sulphide. Collect the precipitate on a filter-paper, and 
dissolve in dilute nitric acid, when a sulphate of copper will be formed. 
Evaporate the solution to dryness, dissolve the residue in water, and test 
as already directed. 

If you have a large quantity of the copper solution, it is well to test a 
portion by placing a clean needle in the liquid and allowing it to remain 
in for some hours. The deposit must be examined as already directed. 
It must not be concluded that a mere reddish deposit on the needle, with- 
out further analysis, is copper, as it is often difficult to distinguish this by 
the naked-eye appearance from a deposit due to the formation of a little 
oxide of iron. 

(2) (a) Cut the solid matters up into small pieces, and bruise them in 
a mortar. Boil for a short time in dilute hydrochloric acid, filter, concen- 
trate the filtrate, and test with sulphuretted hydrogen. 

<;) All the solid matters that are left should now be incinerated, when, 
if copper be present, the ash will be of a bluish color. (It does not, how- 
ever, follow that a blue ash is due to copper.) Dissolve this in dilute 
nitric acid (one to one of water ), filter, and test with sulphuretted hydrogen. 

Cases of Poisoning with Copper. 


CASE 1. — "La France Medicate," Septeiuher 16tb, 1S74 'case of Moreau). Recorded in detail in 
the "British Medical Journal," September 26th, 1874. Female: set. 33. 

Symptoms. — Cramps: a quantity of glairy mucus vomited; great pains in the stomach; gradual 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Copper found. 

CASE 2. — "Medical Gazette," vol. xviii, p. 742. Female: set. 16 months. Put pieces in mouth, and 
sucked them. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in fifteen minutes; no convulsions. 

Result. — Death in four hours. 

CASE 3.— Beek's "M..lieal Jurisprudence," vol. ii, p. 667. Male: ict. 40. 3j. 

Result. — Death in twelve hours. 

CASE 4.— "Wonnley," p. 377 (Dr. Percival). Female: adult. 3ij. 

Symptoms. — Violent symptoms. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 5.— StilkS " Materia Medica." vol. i, p. 325. 5j- 
Result. — Revo very. 

CASK &.—" Lancet,*' April 80th, 1842, p. 145 (Dr. R. B.Todd). Female; ret. 18. A quantity in solu- 
Symptoms.— Violent irritant symptoms, continuing for nine days; no jaundice. 
Result.— Ueeovery. 

CASE 7.— " M. dual Times," January 9th, 1847, p. 284. Female : set. 36. 310 grains. 
Symptoms. — Immediate paius in throat and stomach, with sickness. 
Result. — Recovery. 

i ASE 8.—" Wien. Med, Wocheusch.," 1871. No. 26. Sulphate of copper. 
Symi>iuins. — Jaundice. 
Result,— Death in three days. 
Post-morte <».— Fatty degeneration of liver. 

CASK 9.—" Medical Times and Gazette," October 20th, 1866, p. 435. Female ; :et. 75. Suiphate of 


CASE 10.— "Taschenbuch," p. 458 (Niemann), quoted by Taylor, p. 304. Female: set. 24. 535. 

Symptoms. — Irritation of stomach. 

Result. — Death in sixty hours. 

CASE 11— "Woruiley," p. 376 (Pyli; " Christison," p. 466. Female. sij. 

Symptoms. — Convulsions; paralysis. 

Result. — Death in three days. 

CASE 12. — Orfila, "Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 519. Male : adult. 5ss. in water. 

Symptoms.— Symptoms set in after fifteen minutes: violent vomiting and jauudice ; also purging. 

Result.— Recovery on fourth day. 


CASE 13.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 306 — A lady and some children ate some 
rhubarb stewed in a copper vessel imperfectly tinned. All were taken ill, and the lady died after 
severe symptoms, from which she partially recovered, but which afterwards came on with increased 

CASE 14.— "Guy's Hospital Reports," 1866. p. 329. Symptoms of poisoning induced in a family by 
the use of a badly-tinned copper vessel for cooking. One old man (tet. 90) died in three weeks. 

CASE 15.— "Pharmaceutical Journal," August, 1870, p. 15S. Ten persons taken ill (in Geneva) 
from food being cooked in a dirty copper vessel. 

CASE 16. — "Wormley," p. 376 (Dr. Percival). Female: set. 17. From eating pickled samphire 
contaminated with copper. 

Symptoms, — No nervous symptoms. No convulsions. 

Result. — Death on ninth day. 

CASE 17.— "Christison," p. 466. Two females: lady and daughter. From eating sauerkraut kept 
in copper. 

Result. — One died in twelve hours, the other in thirteen. 

Po*t-mortem. — Skin very yellow after death. 

CASE IS.— "Christison," p. 454. Gmelin traced an outbreak of illness at a monastery from the 
use of copper vessels. A similar case also recorded at the monastery of the Jacobin monks at Paris. 

CASE 19. — ''Christison," p. 467. Female: set. 18. From beans cooked in copper vessel. 

Symptoms. — Sickness at first ; afterwards convulsions and insensibility. 

Result. — Death in seventy-eight hours. 

CASE 20.—" Lancet." August 1, 1863, p. 129 (Dr. Harley). Male: set. 18. Copper-plate worker. 

Symptoms. — Acute abdominal pains; purple line round the gums, the line remaining for some 
time after recovery. 

Result. — Recovery. 

For other Cases of Copper Poisoning, see 

" Pharmaceutical Journal," 1S70. p. 874. (Sulphate of copper.) 

" Medical Times," April 11th, 1846, p. 33, and November 25th. 1843. (Verdigris.) 

" Medical Times and Gazette," June, 1868, p. 658, and 1870, vol. i, p. 581. (Chronic poisoning.) 

GOLD (Au = 196.5.) 

Gold is a soft, yellow metal, and has been employed from time to time 
as a medicine, chiefly in the treatment of scrofulous and venereal affec- 
tions. It is used by dentists for stopping teeth. The perchloride (AuCl,) 


is the only compound we need notice ; but, although a violent poison, we 
have no cases of poisoning to record with it in the human subject. Oifila 
found that very small quantities would kill animals in a few minutes if 
injected into the veins. Its action is corrosive, death resulting purely from 
local injury, and not as the result of the absorption of the poison. In the 
form of fulminate, in which it was formerly prescribed, six grains have 
proved fatal, vomiting, convulsions, and salivation being prominent symp- 


1. Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives a brown precipitate (Au.,S 3 ), soluble in 
sulphide of ammonium. 

2. Ferrous Sulphate gives a brown precipitate of metallic gold. 

3. Protoehloride of Tin gives a purple precipitate (purple of Cassius). 

IRIDIUM (Ir = 197.) RHODIUM (Ro = 104.) 

Iridium and rhodium are white, hard, brittle metals. The salts of 
rhodium are rose-colored. The metals are very difficult of solution, even 
in nitro-nmriatic acid. Both are found in platinum ores. 

The chlorides of both metals are poisonous, and act similarly to plati- 
num, but not, perhaps, quite so energetically. 

IRON ( Fe = 56. Sp. gr. 7.840 

Iron is found native in meteoric stones, and but seldom under other cir- 

The ores are numerous. 

It is soluble in dilute sulphuric and hydrochloric acids, and also in a 
weak solution of nitric acid. 

Dry air does not affect it, but it oxidizes rapidly if moisture be present. 
Iron itself is not a poison ; and only two of the salts need further descrip- 
tion (viz., the sulphate and the chloride) as possessing interest to the 

Ferrous Sulphate, or Sulphate of Iron (Fe.S0 4 , 7H 2 0), Green Vitriol, 


This is prepared by dissolving iron wire in sulphuric acid. 

It is insoluble in alcohol, but is soluble in one and a half times its weight 
of cold water. It has a powerful astringent action ; and for this, and as a 
hrematinic and an emmenagogue, it is largely used in medicine. It is also 
largely used in ink and dye manufactures. 

Ferric Chloride (Fe 2 Cl 6 ). 
(Liquor Ferri Perchloridi.) 

The solution is prepared by dissolving iron wire in hydrochloric acid, 
and peroxidizing the iron by boiling with nitric acid. The application of 
the perchloride to prevent haemorrhage, a use to which it is frequently 
applied, has been known to produce injurious effects. (" Lancet," March 
16th, 1861, p. 279.) Its injection into a najvus has proved fatal. 

The iron salts, none of which are active poisons, have been taken and 
administered on several occasions for the purpose of procuring criminal 
abortion. The symptoms that are usually induced by an overdose are 
those of an irritant poison, with pain in the stomach, vomiting of an inky 
fluid, and violent purging. Its administration to pregnant females formed 
a subject of discussion before the Obstetrical Society, to which discussion 
the reader is referred. ("Trans. Obstet. Soc," vol. xii, p. 33.) 


The treatment must consist in the use of the stomach-pump, emetics if 
necessary, and diluents with alkaline carbonates. 

Gmelin found that when two drachms of the sulphate was administered 
to dogs, no symptom other than vomiting was produced. Twenty grains 
injected into the veins of dogs produced no effect whatsoever. Rabbits, 
moreover, swallowed forty grains without injury. There is, however, some 
discrepancy between these results and those obtained by Dr. Smith, who 
found that dogs died in twenty-four hours after a dose of two drachms, 
but that much less proved fatal when applied to a wound. 

The post-mortem appearances are those of a pure irritant. The stomach 
and bowels will probably be found to contain a quantity of black fluid 
throughout their whole length. 

Tents for Iron and its Salt.*. 

Note. — Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives no precipitate with a solution of a 
Ferrous Salt acidulated with hydrochloric acid; but with a solution of a 
jF( trie Salt a white precipitate of sulphur is thrown down, whilst the ferric 
becomes a ferrous salt. 

2Fe 2 CI 6 + 2H 2 S = 4FeCl 2 4- 4HC1 + S 2 . 

With Sulphide of Ammonium a solution of a Ferrous salt gives a black 
precipitate of ferrous sulphide (FeS). If added to a Ferric solutiou, the 
ferric salt is reduced to a ferrous salt, the black FeS being precipitated, 
and sulphur set free. 

1. Ferrous Salts (that is, salts having FeO as the base) represented by 
green vitriol (FeSOj have the following properties and reactions : 

1. They are generally colorless, or of a light-green tint when in solu- 

tion, and have an inky taste. 

2. The Alkalies give a greenish precipitate of ferrous hydrate 

(FeH,0,), which becomes red when exposed to air. 

3. Ferrocyanide of Potassium gives a pale blue precipitate (ferrocy- 

anide of iron and potassium, K.,Fe„Cy 6 ). 

4. Ferrieyanide of Potassium gives a dark-blue precipitate (Fe 5 Cy,_, I, 

insoluble in dilute acids. 

5. Soluble Carbonates give a precipitate of iron carbonate, which is 

white when pure. 

6. A soluble ferrous salt boiled with nitric acid becomes converted 

into a ferric salt, one of the lower oxides of nitrogen escaping. 

2. Ferric Salts (that is, salts having Fe 2 O a as the base, as represented 
by sesquichloride of iron, Fe 2 Cl 6 ) have the following properties and reac- 

1. The solutions are usually yellow, red, or brown. 

2. The alkalies laud their carbonates l give a red precipitate of ferric 

hydrate (Fe 2 H 6 6 ), insoluble even when boiled. 

3. Ferrocyanide of Potassium gives a deep blue precipitate of sesqui- 

ferrocyanide of iron (Fe.Cy,,'), insoluble in dilute acids, but de- 
composed by alkalies. 

4. Sulphoeyanide of Potassium produces a deep red solution (ferric 

sulphocyanide, Fe 2 Cy 6 S 6 ). 

5. Tincture of Galls produces a black (inky) solution. 

6. Ferrieyanide of Potassium produces no precipitate. It is, there- 
fore, the distinguishing test between ferrous and ferric salts. 


Iron salts are soluble in a borax bead, giving it a bottle-green color in 
the reducing, and a brownish tint in the oxidizing flame. 

Toxieologieal Analysis. 

In examining organic matters for iron, digest them thoroughly with 
water acidulated with acetic acid ; filter; evaporate the filtrate to dryness; 
incinerate the residue, and after acting on the ash with dilute sulphuric 
acid, test accordingly with sulphuretted hydrogen, ferrocyanide of potas- 
sium, etc. 

To estimate Iron quantitatively, oxidize it first to the condition of a 
peroxide with nitric acid and heat, and then precipitate with ammonia. 
Collect the precipitate and dry. Every 80 parts is equal to 56 of iron. 
Permanganate of potash may be used for the same purpose. 

Cases of Poisoning with Iron. 

CASE 1. — Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 320. Female: set. 15. 3j to induce abortion. 

Symptoms. — (jreat irritation of urinary system. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 2. — "Provincial Journal," April 7th, 1847 (Mr. Aymot). Female: adult, siss. of the tincture. 

Symptoms. — Immediate vomiting ; cough ; paiu along gullet and in stomach ; black motions. 

Result. — Recovery in a month. 

CASE 3.— "Dublin Medical Press," February 21st, 1849 (Sir James Murray). Male : xt. 72. Siij. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms of suffocation ; tongue very swollen ; pulse feeble ; motions black. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 4.—" Pharmaceutical Journal," April, 1869, p. 605. 3j. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 5.—" Lancet," January 2d, 1S69, p. 9 (Mr. Warburton). Female: set. 30. Jj. 

Symptoms. — Severe convulsions in a quarter of an hour; vomiting was produced by emetics, and 
in five hours and a half the patient was fairly well. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 6. — "American Journal of Medical Science," April, 1S70, p. 506. Used as a uterine injection. 

Symptoms.— Peritonitis. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 7.— "Christison," p. 506 (Dr. Combe). Male: adult. Siss. 

Symptoms. — Inky and bloody vomiting; bloody purging. Seemed to recover in three weeks, but 
bad a relapse two weeks afterwards. 

Result.— Death in six weeks. 

Post-mortem. — Pylorus thickened ; extensive inflammation. 

CASE 8. — "Lancet," February 7th, 1874, p. 195 (Mr. W. B. Kesteven). JEt. 9 months. A na?vus on 
the head injected with about three minims of the perchloride. The same operation had been per- 
formed on the child six months previously. 

Symptoms. — Convulsions. 

Result.— Death in five minutes. 

For Cases of Poisoning with the Sulphate, see 

" Medical Gazette," 1850, p. 640; "Ann. d'Hyg.," 1851, vol. i, p. 155; Christison, p. 506 (recovery 
after sj). 


(Pb = 207. Sp. gr. 11.4. Melts at 327° Cent.) 

Lead is usually prepared from galena (PbS), by first heating it in air, 
by which means a mixture is produced of oxide of lead (PbO), sulphate 
of lead (PbSO,), and sulphide of lead (PbS). The air is then excluded, 
and the temperature raised, when the sulphur becomes oxidized at the ex- 
pense of the oxygen in the lead compounds, and escapes, as sulphurous 
anhydride, by the shaft, the pure metal remaining in the crucible. Galena 
often contains a little silver, and sometimes even a little gold. 

Lead is a soft, easily fusible metal, malleable, but not ductile. It is 


volatile by heat, and tarnishes "readily in moist air, an oxkle being formed 
on the surface of the metal. 

It is very Soluble in dilute nitric acid, hut neither cold hydrochloric nor 
sulphuric acids have any action upon it. Fortius reason leaden chambers 
are used in the manufacture of oil of vitriol. Hot sulphuric acid, how- 
ever, dissolves it, sulphurous acid being given off. 

The pure metal is said not to be poisonous, but from the ease and ra- 
pidity with which most dilute acids act upon it, and its common use in 
everv-dav lite, chronic poisoning by it is not uncommon. All the salts are 
poisonous, except, perhaps, the sulphide. Even a case of poisoning by 
the insoluble malate is recorded. ("Ann. d'Hyg.," published Jan. 7th, 

Lead with Oxygen : 

Plumbous or Lead Suboxide, . ... PbX> = 430. 
Plumbic or Lead Oxide (Litharge), . PbO = 223. 
Plumbic or Lead Dioxide, . . . PbO, = 239. 

Red Lead = Mixture of the two Oxides, -■ ' 9 p, A p, A ' 

Plumbic or Lead Nitrate, . . . Pb2N0 3 = 331. 

Plumbic Acetate = Sugar of Lead, . Pb2(C,H 3 0,). 

Plumbic or Lead Carbonate, . . PbC0 3 =267. 

Plumbic or Lead Sulphate, . . . PbSO, = 303. 

Plumbic or Lead Sulphide, . . . PbS = 239. 

Plumbic or Lead Chloride, . . . PbCl s =278. 

Plumbic or Lead Iodide, . . . Pbl,= 461. 

Plumbic or Lead Oxalate, . . . PbC,0 4 =295. 

Plumbic or Lead Chromate, . . . PbCr0 4 = 323.5. 

Carbonate of Lead (PbC0 3 = 257). 
(Ceruse — White Lead.) 

Carbonate of Lead is found native. It may be prepared by precipi- 
tating sugar of lead with carbonate of soda. It is very heavy, and is 
usually found either in lumps or as a snow-white powder. It is largely 
used as a white paint, and was formerly employed for enamelling cards. 

"White Lead" is an impure carbonate. It is prepared as follows: A 
piece of metallic lead is so arranged that it may be freely exposed to 
acetic acid vapor given off from a little vinegar placed in the bottom of a 
small pot. It is then loosely covered over, and old tan thrown over the 
top, a number of pots being similarly arranged. In this manner the lead 
is exposed simultaneously to the action of air, vinegar, and carbonic acid 
from the decomposing tan. First of all, we have an acetate of lead 
formed. This lead acetate ( Pb2 C.H.O,)) takes up plumbic oxide, forming 
Pb2(C,H s O,)2PbO. This last (PbO) takes up the carbonic acid given 
off from the tan, carbonate of lead being thereby (2PbC< >, < formed. The 
lead acetate dissolves more lead oxide, and so the process goes on until 
the action is retarded by the thick crust of carbonate on the surface of the 
lead. The crust is then removed, ground to powder, and sold as white 
lead. White lead is often adulterated with sulphate of barium, an im- 
purity which would be known by its being insoluble in nitric acid. Car- 
bonate of lead gives: (1) when heated on platinum a yellow residue, 
soluble in nitric acid ; (2) it is blackened by sulphuretted hydrogen ; and 
(3) it is soluble with effervescence in dilute nitric acid. 



Sulphate of Lead (PhS0 4 = 303). 

Lead sulphate is a white, heavy, insoluble powder. It turns black with 
sulphuretted hydrogen, sulphuric acid remaining in solution. It is said 
not to be poisonous, because of its insolubility ; but this is doubtful, for 
cases are recorded of seamstresses being poisoned by sucking thread that 
had been mixed with sulphate of lead for the purpose of increasing its 
weight. ("British Medical Journal," Jan. 19th and 26th, 1867, pp. 71 
and 86.) 

Sulphide of Lead (PbS = 239). 

This is found in nature as galena. It is precipitated as a black hydrate, 
on passing sulphuretted hydrogen through a solution of a lead salt. It is 
decomposed by nitric acid. 

Chloride of Lead (PbCl 2 = 278). 

This is one of the three chlorides (viz., silver, lead, and mercurous) in- 
soluble in water. At a moderate heat it fuses and becomes a horny mass 
{Plumbum Corneum). 

Iodide of Lend (Pbl 2 = 461). 
This is a yellow salt, soluble with difficulty in water. 

Oxychloride of Lead (Pb 4 3 Cl 2 ). 

(Mineral Yellow — Patent Yellow — Turner's Yellow — Cassel Yellow.) 
Used as a paint. 

Chromate of Lead (PbCr0 4 ). 

The chromate is a yellow, insoluble salt. It has proved fatal from its 
accidental use by pastry cooks to color buns, in order to give them a rich 
appearance. (" Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 24th, 1859, p. 635.) 
It is also used to color cheap coufectionery. 

Oxide of Lead (PbO = 223). 
(Ordinarily called "Litharge," or, when finely powdered, " Massicot") 

Lead Oxide is prepared during the extraction of silver from lead. It 
is more or less of a yellow color. It is soluble in nitric acid, and possesses 
the propertv, when in contact with air, of absorbing carbonic acid from 
it. It melts at a red heat, and, when melted, freely dissolves glass and 
earthenware, forming fusible plumbic silicates. It is this property of 
litharge which renders it valuable in glass-making and in glazing earthen- 

Poisonous symptoms have often been produced by it. It is largely used 
by painters and glaziers, and also in the preparation of hair dyes. Some- 
times it is added to sour wines, to give them a sweet taste, and many 
accidents have arisen from its use for this purpose. Accidental cases of 
poisoning have resulted from the glaze on earthenware being dissolved by 
the action of dilute acids used in cooking. It has been supposed to be an 
abortive, and has been so administered, but it does not seem to be in any 
way an active poison, for a case is recorded where two tablespoonfuls were 
taken without any ill effects. 


Red Lead (PbO, PbO ; \ (Minium.) 

Red Lead is made by heating litharge iu the presence of air, whereby 
oxygen is absorbed. It is partly soluble in nitric acid ; that is, the acid 
dissolves the PbO, but not the PbO_,. It is sometimes mixed with snuS", 
to give it a red tint, and has also been used for coloring wafers. It is a 
poison, and is often iu the manufacture of " beetle- wafers" mixed with 
flour and water. A case of death from these wafers is recorded. ("Medi- 
cal Times and Gazette," March 1st, 1851, p. 249.) A case is also recorded 
where some red lead was left accidentally in a brewer's apparatus, and was 
not discovered until after some serious poisoning cases had occurred from 
persons drinking the beer with which it had been mixed. ("Lancet," 
March 19th, 1870, p. 428.) 

The mere working in red lead has also produced serious svmptoms. 
("Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 27th, 1856, p. 643.) 

Nitrate of Lead (Pb2N0 3 = 331). 

This is formed by dissolving lead or litharge in nitric acid. It is solu- 
ble iu water. It is largely used in calico printing. It forms the basis of 
Ledoyen's Disinfecting Fluid. 

Acetate of Lead (Pb2(C,H 3 0,) )— (Sugar of Lead). 

This is usually found in shops as a white, solid, crystalline mass, having 
an agreeable odor, and a somewhat sweet taste. It crystallizes in four- 
sided prisms, which effloresce in dr_v air, a carbonate of the metal being 
formed. Its solution iu water is sweet, colorless, odorless, and faintly acid 
to litmus. On spontaneous evaporation, white needle-shaped crystals are 
produced. One hundred grains are soluble in about 250 of water at ordi- 
nary temperatures, and in 6500 of alcohol. It is insoluble in ether. 

If heated moderately on a piece of mica it gives out its water of crystal- 
lization, and becomes a white anhydrous mass. Heated still further, it 
again melts, and gives off vapors of acetic acid, the residual mass gradu- 
ally becoming black. This residue consists of charcoal and metallic lead, 
and is of much greater bulk than that of the salt originally operated upon. 
}so sublimate under such circumstances is 'produced. Heated with the 
blowpipe on charcoal, it melts, globules of metallic lead being formed, 
surrounded by a yellow incrustation of lead oxide. 

Moistened with sulphide of ammonium, acetate of lead turns black, and 
with iodide of potassium or with chromate of potash solutions, yellow. If 
it be boiled with a little dilute sulphuric acid, acetic acid is given off, which 
may be recognized by its odor. If to this a little alcohol be added, and 
further heated, acetic ether will be formed, which will be known by its 
peculiarly fragrant apple odor. 

The solution of acetate of lead when added to common water renders it 
white and milky, an action due to the presence of sulphates and carbonic 
acid in the water. 

It is not an active poison, although it is commonly supposed to be so. 

A solution of sugar of lead will dissolve lead oxide (PbO), when a 
tribasic salt is formed, called subacetate of lead, or Goulard's Extract 
(Pb2> C,H 3 0,)2PbO), which has the property of easily and freely absorb- 
ing carbonic acid, whereby an insoluble carbonate (PbC0 3 ) is formed, the 
original acetate being left iu solution. 


Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

First, we may notice the symptoms of acute lead poisoning. 

Sugar of lead (for, toxicologieally, this and the carbonate are the only 
two salts of much interest) is a weak, and rarely fatal, irritant poison. 
Dryness of the throat, a metallic taste, and thirst are complained of soon 
alter it has been swallowed. Great, but often intermittent, abdominal 
pains of a colicky character, especially referred to the navel, and relieved 
on pressure, is the prominent complaint. The muscles of the abdomen are 
usually very rigid. The countenance is often very anxious, dingy, and 
heavy-looking, the pulse very feeble and very slow, and the prostration 
extreme. Sickness is not a constant symptom. There is (different from 
most irritant poisons) invariably constipation, from paralysis of the intes- 
tinal muscular coat. The urine is generally scanty, and very red. As 
the case progresses, violent cramps, cold sweats, paralysis of the lower ex- 
tremities, and often convulsions and tetanic spasms, come on. The intel- 
lect usually remains clear to the last. Death during the stage of colic is 
almost unknown. 

As to the dose of sugar of lead capable of producing acute poisoning, it 
is very difficult to speak with any degree of certainty. A drachm of ace- 
tate of lead has been taken daily for ten days before any symptoms of 
poisoning manifested themselves. One ounce has been taken without any 
result whatsoever, whilst in other cases two drachms has produced alarm- 
ing symptoms. Cases are recorded ("Lancet," Oct. 23d, 1841, p. 123, also 
p. 805) where mere medicinal doses have produced symptoms of acute poi- 
soning. (See "St. And. Med. Grad. Trans.," vol. v, p. 226-7, for produc- 
tion of lead line, after 18, 21, and 42 grains of this salt.) 

As regards the time of its proving fatal, this is equally variable. Two 
children died in thirty-six hours from swallowing Goulard's Extract. 
Deaths have occurred at the end of three days. We have no records of 
quantity in these cases. 

Action of Lead Salts on Animals. 

The experiments on animals of Orfila, Gaspard, Blake, Campbell, and 
others with lead salts, demand a passing notice here. It is difficult, on 
account of the vomiting produced, to kill a dog with sugar of lead. But 
if vomiting be prevented by tying the gullet, half an ounce of the acetate 
has been found to kill dogs in from nine hours to two days, the symptoms 
being those of acute irritant poisoning. Thirteen grains injected into the 
jugular vein of a dog killed it immediately. Five grains similarly admin- 
istered killed a dog in five days, the symptoms not appearing until the 
third day, and no special post-mortem appearances being manifest in either 
case. Gaspard found that even two grains similarly injected would kill a 
dog; Campbell records a case of death by the application of sugar of lead 
to a wound; and others have noticed injurious results from the application 
of white lead to a scalded surface. (" Brit, and For. Med.-Chir. Rev.," Oct. 
1857, p. 525.) 

Cliristison found 400 grains of nitrate of lead killed a strong dog in 
sixteen hours, the appearances after death being those of an irritant poison. 
According to the experiments of Mitscherlich, half a gramme (7.7 grains) 
of the acetate, dissolved in water, given daily to rabbits, will cause death 
in from ten to twelve days. Very little effect was produced until the ani- 
mal had taken six or seven doses. When ten grammes ( = 154 grains) 
was injected into the stomach, death occurred in from three to twelve 


Experiments by several Continental toxicologists prove that effects can 
be produced in animals, a< the result of small and long-continued doses, 
similar to those produced in man. 

Lead may be found after death in the liver and kidneys, often in the 
Bpleen and urine, and generally in the muscles. It has been found in the 
milk of a cow poisoned with the carbonate. 

Treatment of Acute Poisoning. 

The proper antidotes to be given are the soluble alkaline and eartby 
sulphates, and of these sulphate of magnesia is undoubtedly the best. It 
is, however, advisable in the first instance to encourage free vomiting, with 
warm water or sulphate of zinc ; whilst if these tail, the use of the stomach- 
pump should be resorted to. After this, sulphate of magnesia in milk, 
with eggs, may be given freely. 

Opium may be necessary for the relief of pain, and purgatives, if the 
bowels be very costive. Injections are often useful. The carbonates which 
have been recommended as antidotes are broken reeds, carbonate of lead 
being itself a poison. 

Chronic Lead Poisoning. 

The causes of chronic lead poisoning are numberless. Nor is this to be 
wondered at, considering its extensive use in medicine and in the arts as 
well as in everyday life. Lead is a cumulative poison, and may be re- 
ceived into the system by all possible inlets — stomach, lungs, or skin. A 
few of the causes that have produced chronic lead poisouiug are as follows. 
We have arranged them under three classes : 

1. Where the lead was swallowed. 

2. Where the lead was inhaled. 

3. Where the lead was applied externally. 

A. Where the lead has been swallowed. 

1. By sucking pieces of lead. (" Lancet," June 12th, 1869, p. 835.) 

2. By the use of lead in confectionery as a coloring matter. ("Medical 
Times and Gazette," December 24th, 1859, p. 635.) 

3. By the use of farinaceous foods that have been wrapped in lead-foil. 
(See a similar case of curry powder, " Lancet," April 21st, 1860, p. 406. ) 

4. By the use of leaden pipes for conveying acid beer or cider. ("Medi- 
cal Times and Gazette," August 31st, 1867, and October 23d, 1869. "Lan- 
cet," June 5th, 12th, and 26th, 1869, pp. 779, 826, and 889.) 

(See " Lancet," June 12th and 26th, 1869, for a ease where a publican 
had symptoms of lead poisoning, from taking every morning a glass of 
beer, which, being the first drawn, had been in contact with the lead pipes 
all night.) 

5. By drinking the water in lead mines, or the water kept in a leaden cis- 
tern i "Lancet," February 22d, 1851, p. 202), or by the use of leaden pipes 
for its conveyance (" Dublin Quarterly Jourual," May, 1849 ; " Medical 
Gazette," vol. xliv, p. 260). 

6. By drinking wine impregnated with lead. (" Lancet," August 3d, 
1867, p. 149.) 

7. By the use of flour ground with stones that had been filled in with 
lead. ("Medical Times and Gazette," December 22d, 1866; "British 
Medical Jourual," July 7th, 1866, p. 7.) 

8. By the use of glazed culinary vessels, which glaze is to a certain ex- 
tent dissolved if acid liquids be boiled in contact with it. 


(See case where ginger-beer produced lead poisoning from its having 
been made in glazed earthenware bushel pans. " Medical Times and Ga- 
zette," November 21st, 1868, p. 595.) 

Milk and cider kept in glazed pans. — " Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," 
vol. i., p. 302 (Dr. Proctor). 

9. By the use of red lead as a cement for vessels containing; food, or that 
are used for cooking purposes. ("Lancet," June 19th, 1869, p. 870.) 

10. By eating pickles, the jars containing them being capped with leaden 
tops. Soda water is also said to produce lead poisoning where the taps 
(patent siphon taps) have been made of lead. 

11. By the use of sugar refined by lead, or sugar cast in moulds, the 
insides of which have been painted with white lead. 

12. Occasionally bv the use of lead medicinally. (The "Lancet," Oct. 
31st, 1863, p. 507"; "St. And. Med. Grad. Trans.?' vol. v, p. 226.) 

13. By solder dissolved in Mulligatawny soup. 

B. Where the lead has been inhaled either in the solid or vaporous form. 

In some of these cases external application, as well as inhalation, will 
be the cause of the lead poisoning. 

1. By sleeping in newly painted rooms. (" Lancet," Oct. 30th, 1852, 
p. 391.) 

2. By removing lead paint (scaling) by heat. ("Lancet," Aug. 2d, 
1873, p. 146.) 

3. By the use of snuff and tobacco which has been wrapped in lead-foil, 
or from the snuff being adulterated with red lead to give it a color (Dr. 
Garrod ). (" Lancet," Feb. 9th, 1861, p. 152, and Dec. 3d, 1870, and Jan. 
6th, 1872, p. 2 ; " Medical Gazette," xxxii, p. 138.) 

4. Various businesses and trades. 

(a) Profession of artists. ("Taylor's Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, 

p. 298.) 
(,3) Inhalation of lead dust in cloth manufactories. (" Lancet," Dec. 

24th, 1864, p. 733.) 
{f) Glass making. (" Lancet," Sept. 4th, 1852, p. 214.) 
($) Sealing-wax making (carbonate and chromate of lead being used 

as colors). ("Lancet," Sept. 4th, 1852, p. 214.) 
(e) House painting. (" Lancet," Aug. 15th, 1868, p. 215; June 5th, 

1869, p. 779; August 2d, 1873, d. 146.) 
(C) Lead soldering. ("Lancet," Sept 4th, 1852, p. 214.) 

Three curious cases are recorded of lead poisoning in persons engaged 
in an underground kitchen of the London Railway Terminus, where leaden 
pipes were used for the conveyance of the steam. 

C. Where the lead has been applied externally. 
1. Various trades and businesses. 

(a) White lead grinders. Since the system of grinding under water 
instead of as formerly, in a dry state, has been introduced, the 
number of cases of poisoning from this cause has much dimin- 
ished. (See a fatal case, " Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 
26th, 1864, p. 569.) 

Q3) Plumbers, painters, lead-pipe makers, and workers in lead mines. 
("Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 28th, 1868, p. 611.) 


(j) Manufacturers of glazed cards (lead for this purpose is not used 
now, because the cards so easily turn black). (" Lancet," Sept. 
4th, 1852, p. 214.) 

(<5) Litharge makers, pottery workers, and glassblowers. 

(s) Workers in red lead. (" Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 27th, 
1856, p. 643.) 

(') The handling of vulcanized rubber colored with lead. ("Phar- 
maceutical Journal," 1870, p. 426.) 

(ij) The working in black glazed cloth (oyerland cloth). (" British 
.Medical Journal," Sept. 24th, 1870, p. 325.) 

(0) The cleansing and handling- pewter pots (barmen"l ; ("Medical 
Gazette," vol. xlviii. p. 1047; "Lancet," Jan. 21st, 1860, and 
Aug. 15th, 1868, p. 215 >, and cleansing lead counters, such as 
are used by fishmongers, with brine. (" Guy's Forensic Medi- 
cine," p. 482. 1 

(0 Type handling. ("Lancet," Sept. 4th, 1852, p. 214.) 

(*) Manufacture of organ pipes. ("Lancet," Dec. 3d, 1870, p. 781.) 

(X) Japanning. ("Lancet," Aug. 15th, 1868, p. 215.) 

(/z) Gas and engine fitting. ("Lancet," June 5th, 1869, p. 779; 
" Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 28th, 1868, p. 611.) 

2. The use of hair dyes and cosmetics. ("Pharmaceutical Journal," 
Nov. 1869, p. 304; "Lancet," Sept. 4th, 1852, p. 214, Jan. 12th, 1861, p. 
44 ; " Medical Times and Gazette," Oct. 10th, 1868, p. 433 ; " British 
Medical Journal," Oct. 17th, 1874, p. 513.) 

3. The working in lead dyes, such as chromate of lead. (" British Medi- 
cal Journal," Aug. 3d, 1872, p. 131. Fatal cases recorded, " Medical 
Times and Gazette," Dec. 24th, 1864, p. 692.) 

4. From the action of white leather linings to hats, which often contain 
large quantities of carbonate of lead. 

5. '" American cloth" often contains lead. 

Of 1213 cases of chronic poisoning collected by M. des Planches, 406 
occurred amongst manufacturers of white lead, 305 amongst house painters, 
68 amongst color-grinders, 63 amongst red lead manufacturers, 54 amongst 
manufacturers of common earthen pottery, 52 amongst type-founders, 47 
amongst carriage-painters, 35 amongst lapidaries, 33 amongst ornamental 
painters, and the remainder amongst a large number of trades. 

The fact, then, is this, that in whatever form lead be constantly or habit- 
ually applied to the body, whether it be the inhalation of the fumes, or its 
accidental administration with foods (see a series of cases recorded by Dr. 
Taylor, of Guildford, "Lancet," March 19th, 1870, p. 428), or its exhibi- 
tion as a medicine, either given internally, or applied externally as an 
unguent (as e.g., to piles or sore nipples;, the symptoms of chronic lead 
poisoning may be set up. It has been stated that the women in factories 
are not so easily affected by lead as men ("Lancet," Oct. 4th, 1856. See 
also Lecture by Sir J. Alderson, " Lancet," July 24th, 1852, p. 98). 

Symptoms of Chronic Lead Polioning. 

The symptoms may be, and often are, slow in their progress. Obstinate 
constipation and indigestion, with an intense feeling of depression may be 
all the patient at first complains of. Then there follows in due course a 
loss of appetite, an unrelievable thirst, a constant unpleasant metallic taste, 
and an extreme fetor of the breath. The countenance becomes dull and 
heavy, and appears anxious. There is rarely auy fever, and the pulse is 
usually uatural. The respiration is often rapid. There is frequently great 


abdominal hardness and pain, relieved by pressure, either at the pit of the 
stomach, about the navel, or in the region of the colon (colic), the pain in- 
creasing in intensity as the case progresses. The navel will often be no- 
ticed to be drawn inwards. Obstinate constipation is a common symptom, 
or if the bowels act, the motions are passed with pain and are dark-colored, 
from sulphide of lead being formed. There is usually but little urine 
passed, and a difficulty in passing it. In the female vaginismus is a com- 
mon symptom. Dr. Roque asserts that slow lead poisoning, whether in 
the father or the mother, predisposes to miscarriage, and often produces 
convulsions, idiocy, imbecility, and epilepsy in the children ("Medical 
Times and Gazette," Aug. 1860, p. 167). Moreover, in chronic saturnine 
poisoning a peculiar delirium, especially occurring of a night (delirium of 
dread), is not uncommon ("Medical Times and Gazette," Feb. 27th, 1869, 
p. 222). The case may terminate favorably without any further bad 
symptoms, whilst, sometimes, a form of apoplexy is set up which rapidly 
proves fatal with coma and convulsions. 

But far more commonly Lead Palsy manifests itself. We are told that 
paralysis is commoner in boys and girls, and colic in adults. Lead palsy 
may occur after a single attack of chronic lead poisoning, but it is more 
frequently the result of a succession of attacks, whilst occasionally it comes 
on without being preceded by any attack at all. It is to be particularly 
noted that the upper extremities, and especially the extensor muscles, are 
those most commonly attacked, and that the muscles which are the first to 
lose power and waste away are the extensor muscles of the hand aud fore- 
arm. And this is the history of " the dropped hand" of chronic lead poi- 

But we have yet to notice the great diagnostic sign of saturnine poison- 
ing, a sign that may be discovered when the cause of the patient's illness 
is often neither suspected by the patient nor his friends; that is, the blue 
line in the gums around the margin of the teeth. It is rarely absent, and, 
as a rule, is a very early symptom. Dr. Fleming records a case, however, 
which is worth noting, of lead poisoning occurring in an infant before it 
had any teeth, and in this case no blue Hue was apparent in the gums 
(" British Medical Journal," Jan. 14th, 1865, p. 27). 

This blue line is not due, as some have supposed, to a deposit of the 
metal on the epithelium cells, but to the formation in the minute capilla- 
ries of the gums of a sulphide of lead, produced by the action of sulphu- 
retted hydrogen derived from the fluids of the mouth, on the lead cir- 
culating in the capillaries. If the blue line be examined with a highly 
magnifying lens, it will be seen that the capillaries are dotted with 
blackish granules. 

The subject of chronic lead poisoning has been of late carefully- inves- 
tigated by Heubel (" Virchow und Hirsch's Jahresber.," 1871, vol. i, p. 
316). The bones in these cases were found to contain the most lead, then 
the liver and kidneys. The muscles, blood, and intestines contained less 
than other parts, even than the brain and spinal cord. He denies, there- 
fore, what Henle asserts, that lead has a special affinity for muscle, or that 
the poison exerts a specific action on the pale and striated muscular fibres ; 
nor does he consider that the colicky pains are due to pressure of the con- 
tracted muscular fibres on the ends of the sensory nerves. The constipa- 
tion and diminution of urine he attributes to abnormal irritation of the 
splanchnic nerve; whilst the muscular atrophy he traces to the general 
affinity of the nerve tissue for the poison. 

Iodide of Potassium is regarded by many as the great remedy in chronic 
lead-poisoning. It should be given in doses of from five to ten grains three 
times daily. There is, however, strong reason to doubt whether this treat- 


meiit is always so successful as many seem to suppose. Soluble sulphates 
(sulphate of magnesia) with dilute sulphuric acid (first suggested in 1831 
by M. (ieiidrin) seem the most efficacious treatment under ordinary cir- 
cumstances. The use of purgatives mixed with anodynes, as, for example, 
opium and castor oil, has proved very useful. Some recommend a full 
dose of a laxative salt to he given first, followed in an hour by the opium. 
In severe cases croton oil has been found of service. Mercury given to 
salivation has been said to have relieved the colic when other things failed, 
but the authors consider this to be bad practice. 

In the advanced state of the disease, when the dropped hand is the 
promiuent symptom, the patient must entirely give up business, take con- 
stant exercise in the open air, and be allowed a generous diet. Friction 
and electricity maybe used with advantage, and strychnia given internally 
has proved beneficial. 

Once a patient has suffered from lead poisoning, the chances are that, if 
he is exposed to similar conditions, he will have a repetition of the disease. 
The prophylactics, therefore, are a matter of great importance. 

1st. And above all, great cleanliness must be observed. Workmen, 
unfortunately, are not, as a rule, very clean. Frequent bathing and wash- 
ing with soap, the use of sulphurous baths, rinsing the mouth out from 
time to time and combing the hair thoroughly, should never be neglected. 

2dly. The clothes of workmen should not be made of woollen material, 
but of compact linen ; these should be washed frequently and changed for 
other clothes upon leaving the workshop. A cap should be worn whilst 
at work. 

odly. Xo meals or food should be allowed to be eaten in the workshop. 
Before eating, the hands should be well washed, the nails cleaned, and the 
teeth brushed. 

4thly. The diet should be easily digestible. Vinegar, sour beer, and 
tart wines (such as are often drunk on the Continent) should be avoided. 
Fatty foods are said to be good. 

otlily. Liebig and M. Gendrin advise that lemonade, or sugared water 
acidulated with sulphuric acid, should be provided for the work-people as 
a beverage during work hours. 

6thly. The workshop must be well ventilated with free currents of air, 
so as to carry away floating lead particles. All the operations of grinding 
in "white lead factories" should be conducted under water. 

Tthly. At the very first indication of lead-poisoning the work must be 
discontinued, and proper treatment at once adopted. Medicine should, in 
all cases, be occasionally taken by the workmen, even when well, in order 
to prevent constipation; and for this purpose sulphate of magnesia is to 
be preferred to all other purgatives. 

Action of Water on Lead. 

It is of importance here that we should consider carefully the action of 
water on lead in connection with the important medical question of chronic 

Aud note — 

1st. That pure distilled water, freed from any dissolved gases by boiling 
and excluded from contact with air, has no action whatsoever on lead. 

2dly. If the distilled water containing its customary gases be brought 
into contact with lead, the surface of the water not being exposed to the 
air, the lead soon becomes dull and white, but the action of the water on 
the lead is very temporary and limited. 


3dly. If distilled water, or any pure water, such as raiu-water, snow- 
water, or the water of some rivers and springs, be allowed to act upon lead 
in the presence of air, the action is energetic, and the lead is certain to be 
more or less dissolved. The chemical process whereby this is effected is 
important. An oxide of the lead is formed. This is slightly soluble in 
water. The solution then absorbs carbonic acid from the air. The carbonic 
acid precipitates the lead in great part from the water as a hydrated oxy- 
carbonate (PbO, H 2 0, PbC0 3 ). When this is precipitated the water dis- 
solves fresh oxide, which is again precipitated by the water absorbing fresh 
carbonic acid, and so on. Rain-water, therefore, collected in leaden pipes 
from the roofs of houses is not unlikely to be seriously contaminated with 

4thly. Certain circumstances modify the action. 

(a) Circumstances increasing the corrosive action of water on lead. 

Such for example as the presence in water of chlorides, nitrates, and 

(ft) Circumstances decreasing the corrosive action of water on lead. 

Such as the presence of sulphates, phosphates, and carbonates. And 
for this reason a hard water, so far as lead is concerned, is a safe water. 1 
part of sulphates in 5000 parts of water interferes with, if not entirely pre- 
vents, the action of the water upon lead. A water, such as is supplied to 
the city of London, of twelve or thirteen degrees of hardness before and 
three degrees after boiling, is absolutely without solutive power on lead. 
In nearly all town waters the amount of carbonate of lime present is suffi- 
cient to prevent injurious action. A film of insoluble basic carbonate is 
formed, and being once formed protects the lead from further corrosion. 
Spring waters may, as a rule, be considered without action on lead at all. 

A little vegetable matter in water is said to act as a preservative, as in 
the Scotch lake waters, where an insoluble lining to pipes and cisterns is 
formed by its combination with the lead oxide. 

5thly. The practical conclusions to be drawn from these facts are that: 

(a) Lead should not be used at all for the storage of water. Cisterns 
should be made, if required, of slate. It is better, however, 
not to store water in private houses at all. The distilled waters 
of aromatic plants should never be kept by druggists in leaden 
vessels, as this may be a cause of accident. 

(/?) Iron or earthenware pipes for conveying water are preferable to 

(/) No pump should have a lead cover, as the water that rises by 
evaporation is very pure and therefore freely dissolves lead. 
This, dropping down into the pump, may serve to contaminate 
the water of the well. 

(S) The use of tinned pipes is objectionable. If the layer of tin is 
not perfect in every point, a galvanic action is likely to be set 
up and the solution of the lead hastened accordingly. The 
solder, moreover, used in leaden cisterns may by galvanic ac- 
tion assist the solution of the lead. Even impurities in the 
lead itself may in a similar manner act injuriously. 

Gthly. To test whether a water has any action upon lead, thoroughly 
clean some strips of lead by scraping them with a piece of glass, and place 
them in a tumbler full of water, allowing the whole to be freely exposed 
to the air. At the end of three days remove the pieces of lead and pass 
sulphuretted hydrogen through the water aud observe whether any black- 


ening of the water results. The change of color is best seen by standing 
the glass on a piece of white paper in a good light. 

Action of Acids on Lead. 
It is important to notice the action of acids on lead. 

1. Sulphuric Acid. — A trace of sulphuric acid added to distilled water 
greatly decreases its solutive power. 

2. Hydrochloric Acid. — One part in 3000 of water largely increases the 
solvent power of the water. 

3. Acetic Acid. — One part in 10,000 of water largely increases the sol- 
vent action, provided a free supply of air be maintained. 

4. Citric Acid increases the solvent action, but to a lesser degree than 
acetic acid. 

5. Tartaric Acid also increases the solveut action, but to a lesser degree 
than citric acid. 

6. Malic Acid. — One part in 5000 of water, if allowed to be in contact 
with lead for one hour, will show a marked reaction with sulphuretted 

This action of acids on lead will serve to explain some of the evil effects 
that have resulted from the storage of various articles of food in leaden 
vessels or in dishes glazed with lead. For example, milk that has been 
kept in glazed earthenware pans has been a cause of lead poisoning. Rum 
being preserved in leaden vessels was proved to have produced an epidemic 
colic in Jamaica. Wine being placed in bottles where lead shot had been 
used for cleaning the bottle, and the shot not entirely removed, has been a 
cause of accident; whilst the lead colic that at one time was so common 
in Devonshire was clearly traced to the contamination of the cider with 
lead, and that not merely caused by the addition of a lead salt in order to 
correct acidity, but to its contact with metallic lead in the apparatus used 
in the manufacture. 

And here it may be mentioned that wines were formerly much adulter- 
ated with lead for the purpose of correcting their acidity. The "Colica 
Pictonum" derives its name from the sixteenth century outbreak of colic 
at Poitou, which raged for sixty and more years, brought about, it is be- 
lieved, by such admixture. This method of sweetening wines is not adopted 
nowadays, but the acetate of lead has been and is still used for the purpose 
of clarifying not only wines and spirits, but also sugar. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

Often in an acute case no well-marked appearances have been discov- 
ered. At other times more or less inflammation of the intestinal tract has 
been observed. Sometimes the stomach has appeared white, as if corroded 
by the poison. The intestines have geuerally been found contracted. 

As regards chronic cases there is nothing definite to be recorded, save 
the constriction and contraction of the large intestines, and the flabby and 
whitish appearance of the muscles specially affected. They may even be 
reduced to the general aspect of white fibrous tissue. In cases where con- 
vulsions have preceded death, no special morbid appearauces, such as we 
should expect, have been discovered in the head. 

M. Tatiquerel, after an elaborate inquiry into the post-mortem appear- 
ances of lead poisoning, concludes that the pathological phenomena are 
not caused by such anatomical changes as are cognizable by the senses. 



1. Sulphuretted Hydrogen. 

Gives in neutral, acid, or alkaline solutions, a black precipitate (PbS). 
In very dilute solutions the precipitation of the sulphide of lead may be 
considerably aided by heat. The precipitate is insoluble in caustic alka- 
lies or in dilute mineral acids. It is soluble in hot hydrochloric acid. 

To further test the precipitate, boil it in dilute nitric acid for fifteen 
minutes (one of acid to four of water) and filter. Test the filtrate for lead 
as follows : 

(a) Evaporate a drop of the solution to dryness, and so obtain slender 
prismatic crystals of nitrate of lead. 
• Iodide of potassium gives a yellow precipitate I vide 2 |. 
(y) Chromate of Potash gives a bright yellow precipitate ( vide 6). 
(<5) Dilute sulphuric acid gives a white precipitate [vide 3). 

1. Iodide of Potassium. 

Gives, in solutions neither very acid nor alkaline, a bright yellow pre- 
cipitate ; Phi,) insoluble in excess of the iodide; soluble in caustic potash, 
forming a clear solution, as well as in nitric and hydrochloric acids; spar- 
ingly soluble in cold water; soluble to a slight extent in boiling water, 
from which it is reprecipitated on cooling in golden six-sided scales. It 
is less soluble in water containing iodide of potassium than it is in pure 

3. Sulphuric Acid and the Soluble Sulphates. 

Give a white heavy precipitate of sulphate of lead (PbSO/, which in 
dilute solutions subsides somewhat slowly. 

The precipitate is insoluble in dilute nitric acid, but is soluble in boil- 
ing hydrochloric acid and in a large excess of potash and soda. 

(Note. — Sulphuric acid also precipitates baryta and strontia, but PbSO, 
may be known either by its turning black when touched with sulphide of 
ammonium, or when mixed with carbonate of soda and heated on charcoal 
with the blowpipe, by its yielding a globule of metallic lead.) 

4. Hydrochloric Acid and Soluble Chlorides. 

Give a white precipitate with strong solutions of lead salts, the precipi- 
tate being sparingly soluble in water (1 in 120), but soluble in hot hydro- 
chloric acid. 

(Note. — Hydrochloric acid also gives a white precipitate with solutions 
of silver and suboxide of mercury. Both of these are quite insoluble in 
water. The one may be known from the other as follows: 

Add to the precipitate a solution of ammonia. 

The Lead Chloride is insoluble and is not altered in color. 

The Silver Chloride is perfectly soluble. 

The Mereurous Chloride turns black.) 

5. Zinc Test (the Lead tree). 

(a) Suspend by a thread of silk a piece of pure zinc in a lead solution, 
when metallic lead will be deposited upon the zinc. 

(j9) Put the lead solution into a platinum capsule, acidulate it with 
acetic acid, aud touch the platinum through the lead solution with a piece 
of zinc, when metallic lead will be thrown down on the platinum, and may 
be tested accordinglv. 


6. Chromate of Potash. 

Gives, in neutral solutions, a bright gamboge-yellow amorphous precipi- 
tate of Chromate oj Lend, which is insoluble in acetic acid, is very soluble 
in caustic potash, and is blackened when acted upon by sulphide of am- 

7. Oxalate of A m mon ia . 

< rives, in neutral solutions, a white precipitate of oxalate of lead, which 
is soluble in nitric acid, insoluble in acetic acid, blackeued by sulphide of 
ammonium, and yields a metallic bead when heated on charcoal with the 

8. Alkaline Carbonates. 

Give a white amorphous precipitate, insoluble in excess of the precipi- 
tant, but soluble in potash and soda and in nitric and acetic acids. 

9. Lead solutions also give white precipitates, with potash, ammonia, 
and ferrocyauide of potassium, aud a yellow precipitate soluble in ammo- 
nia with ferrieyanide of potassium. 

10. All lead salts mixed with carbonate of sodium and heated on char- 
coal in the reducing flame of the blowpipe, are reduced to a malleable 
metallic bead of the metal surrounded more or less by a ring of yellow 

Toxieologieal Analysis. 

A. (a) In conducting a toxieologieal inquiry, treat the contents of the 
stomach and any tissues to be examined, previously well broken up in a 
mortar, with sufficient water to filter easily ; acidulate with nitric acid, boil 
for a few minutes, filter, and treat the filtrate with washed sulphuretted 

But it must not be forgotten that the lead salt may be present in an in- 
soluble form from its having been precipitated either by the several anti- 
dotes administered, or by the casein, albumen, etc., normally present. Pro- 
ceed now as follows : 

(,J) Incinerate all the materials on the filter-paper in a porcelain cap- 
sule. Dissolve the ash by heat in dilute nitric acid, filter, and pass sul- 
phuretted hydrogen through the filtrate. 

The black precipitate must now be proved to be lead by the several tests 
already described. 

If an alkaline sulphate has been given as an antidote, a white precipi- 
tate of sulphate of lead may be found in the stomach. This should be 
collected, boiled in pure caustic potash (taking care it is itself free from 
lead), and the solution tested with sulphuretted hydrogen. 

B. The contents of the stomach and the tissues may be boiled with a 
little carbonate of soda, and filtered. Add a little acetic acid to the 
residue on the filter, aud wash with water. Put these washings and the 
filtered liquid together, pass sulphuretted hydrogen through it, collect the 
sulphide, and weigh. 

(C.) The process of Fresenius and also Dialysis have been recommended 
by some for the recovery of the poison. 

(D. ) In the case of sweetmeats suspected of being colored with lead, 
slightly moisten them with water aud put them on a plate, placing in the 
centre a little capsule containing a drachm or two of sulphide of ammo- 
nium, and cover the whole over with a tumbler. If lead be present the 
sweetmeats will after a short time be found to be blackened by the sul- 
phuretted hydrogen evolved. 


(E.) To examiue water for lead, two clear white pint bottles should be 
taken and filled with the water to be examined. Through the one washed 
sulphuretted hydrogen should be passed for some time, and the color 
should then be examined, by comparison with the water in the other bottle 
in a good light, to see whether any blackening effect has been thereby 

Quantitative Estimation. 

To estimate lead quantitatively we precipitate it as a sulphide: 

If a liquid, evaporate to dryness, expose to a red heat with charcoal and 
carbonate of soda (black flux), dissolve in nitric acid, dilute, neutralize 
with ammonia and precipitate with sulphuretted hydrogen, collect, dry, 
and weigh. 

100 grains of PbS = 93.31 of PbO (Litharge). 
" = 107.53 of PbCO,. 
" =138.49 of Pb2NO ? . 
" " = 158.37 of crystallized acetate of lead. 

100 grains of PbS0 4 = 125.00 of acetate of lead. 

Cases of Poisoning by the Salts of Lead, 


CASE 1.—" Lancet," August 2ath, and May 5th, 1849, p. 205 (Dr. Norris). The Stourbridge case. 
Thirty pounds of acetate of lead by mistake for alum mixed with seventy or eighty sacks of corn. 

Symptoms. — No deaths. Blue line observed in gums in nearly all the cases (over one hundred and 
twenty); salivation in several cases; pains in the loins very frequent. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 2.— "Medical Times and Gazette," March 20th, 18.58, p. 296 (Dr. Leared). Male. One ounce 
dissolved in water. 
Symptoms. — Vomiting in a quarter of an hour and purging in three-quarters; constipation. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.—" Medical Tira°s," December 26th, 1840, p. 149. Female. About six hundred grains. 
Symptoms.— Immediate fainting, convulsions, and vomiting; a large quantity of urine was passed, 
and found by Orfila to contain a large quantity of lead. No cerebral symptoms or numbness. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 4.— "Medical Times," September 13th, 1865, p. 471. Female: set. 24. Sss. 
Symptoms. — Immediate burning pain in stomach, and sickness; mouth became white ; carotids 
pulsated violently. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 5.— "Provincial Medical Journal," April, 1846 (Mr. Gorringe). (1) Female. 5j. 
Symptoms.— Vomiting; pain. Suffered for more than a year from dyspepsia. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 6.— "Provincial Medical Journal," April, 1846 (Mr. Gorringe). (2) Female. 5j. 
Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 7.—" Lancet," April 4th, 1846, p. 384. Sixty grains. 

Symptoms — No paralysis. 

Result. — Recovered in three weeks. 

CASE 8.— "Transactions of the College of Physicians, London," vol. iii, p. 426 (Sir George Baker). 
Male: adult: r>j, taken in two doses. 

Symptotns. — In five hours great pain ; vomiting ; delirium. 

Result.— Recovery. 

( JASE 9.—" Bulletin de la Soc. Roy. de Med,," 1840, vol. vi, p. 283. Female : adult. 5j. 

Symptoms. — No bad symptoms. Lead found in urine. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 10.— "London Medical Repository," 1824, vol. iii, p 37 (Mr. Iliff). 

Symptoms. — Pain, rigidity, numbness, lasting for some days. At first there was vomiting and 

Result.— Recovery. 



CASK 11.— "Lancet," January 14th, I860 (Dr. Aldis). Female: get. 21. Three-quarters of a pint. 
Sfymptoms,— Great agony; muscles of belly drawn towards; trembling of hands; no vomiting or 
purging, but desire to vomit ; great thirst. 
.— Recovery. 
(.'ASK 12.—" Lancet," March 3d, 1838. Male : adult. Taken, believiug it to he wine. 
Symptoms.— On the third day severe colic, loss of voice, tucked jaw, aud convulsions. 
A suit. — Death on third day. 

CASE 13.— "Journal Universe!," vol. xx, p. 351. Male: adult. Dose(?). 
Symptoms.— Severe colic on third day. 
Result.— Death in three days. 


CASE 14.— " Lancet," May 24th, 1S73, p. 733. Female : set. 30. Two tabtespoonfuls of litharge to 
bring on menses. 
Symptoms. — No poisonous symptoms of any kind. 
Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 15.— "Guy's Hospital Reports," October, 1S50, p. 209. Female: adult. 3ijJ^. 

Symptoms, — No symptoms for nine hours. 

Result. — Recovered in twelve days. 

i ASK 16.—" Lancet," 1870, vol. i, pp. 423 aud 495 (Dr. H. S. Taylor). A series of cases caused by 
some beer made at a brewery where a quantity of red lead had been accidentally left in one of the 
brewing utensils. 

Result. — One fatal case. 


CASE 17.— "Lancet," October 26th, 1S44, p. 144 (Mr. Snow). Male: set. 5. Piece of white lead size 
of a marble. 

Symptoms— Had pain and costiveness for three days. On the third day vomiting came on. The 
body became covered with petechia;; gums tense and very white. Died in ninety hours. 

Result.— Death in ninety hours. 

Post-mortem.— Quantity of bloody fluid in pericardium; lungs engorged; liver, heart, and kidneys 
soft and flabby ; stomach intensely inflamed; intestines natural. Lead not found. 

CASE IS.— Casper's " Wochensehrift," No. 36,1844; "Medical Times," August 16th, 1815, p. 390. 
Male : a?t. 20. 5v to 5vj in mistake for chalk. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and pains in a few hours. Severe thirst and constipation. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 19.— "Medical Times," February 23d, 1839, p. 786 (Mr. R. Cross). Female: at. 33. 5vj to 

Symptoms. — Symptoms set in in five hours. Sulphate of magnesia administered. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 20.— "Christison," p. 552 (Dr. Ogsten). Female. Sj. 

Symjitoms — No effect. 

Result.— Recovery. 

(ASK 21.— "Christison," p. 552 (Mr. Cross). Female. 5vj. 

Symptoms. — Violent symptoms for eight hours. 

Result. — Recovery. 


(Mn = 55.) 

This metal is widely diffused. Its attraction for carbon is so very great 
that it is difficult to obtain it in a pure state. It is a hard, brittle, gray, 
aud feebly magnetic metal. The mauganates are all colored. 

Preparations of manganese have been proposed and used in medicine. 
The sulphate, in doses of from 60 to 120 grains, is said to have a purga- 
tive effect, and to increase the excretion of bile. Its value in cases of 
amemia is, however, very doubtful. It colors the faeces pink or golden 

Manganese is a feeble poison. A drachm proved fatal to a rabbit in an 


hour. Twelve grains injected into the jugular vein of a dog killed it in 
five days, the stomach, liver, and duodenum being found inflamed. Hiine- 
feld found manganic acid might be given to a rabbit for two or three days, 
in doses of ten or fifteen grains, without producing any effect except an 
increased flow of urine. The liver, however, on analysis, yielded man- 
ganese. Dr. Couper, of Glasgow, has asserted that manganese is an 
insidious poison and induces paraplegia, whilst on the other hand, Dr. 
Thomson, of Glasgow, states that an ounce of the sulphate is a safe laxative. 


1. Sulphide of Ammonium gives a buff-colored precipitate (MnS), soluble 
even in acetic acid. 

2. The Alkalies give a white precipitate of hydrated oxide (MnHO,), 
which becomes brown from the formation of Mu,H0 4 . 

3. Mixed with sodium carbonate and heated on platinum-foil in the 
oxidizing flame of the blowpipe, a fusible mass of a green color is produced 

4. Heated in a borax bead in the oxidizing flame of the blowpipe, a 
magnificent amethyst-red bead is formed. 


(Symbol Hg— Atom. wt. 200 ; Sp. gr. at 0° 13.596 ; of Vapor 6.976 ; 
Melting Pt. 39° C; Boiling Pt. 350° C.) 

Mercury is the only metal liquid at ordinary temperatures. It is ex- 
tracted from a red ore called cinnabar (HgSi. It is attacked by all the 
haloid elements, and dissolves most of the metals, except iron and platinum. 
It is dissolved by hot nitric and sulphuric acids; whilst hydrochloric acid 
has no action upon it. It volatilizes at all temperatures above 4° Cent., 
and boils at 350° Cent., when it passes off unchanged. When pure it is 
not tarnished by exposure to air, but if kept at a temperature of 300 D it 
slowly absorbs oxygen and becomes converted into the red oxide. 

Mercury is not a constituent of the human body, nor is it a poison ex- 
cept it becomes oxidized. If the vapor be breathed, or if it be applied in 
a finely-divided state to an ulcer or to the abraded skin, or even to the 
sound skin, as happens with those who are engaged in mining the metal, 
then the various symptoms indicative of mercurial poisoning may lie pro- 
duced ("Lancet," Jan. 11th, 1868, p. 68j. In all these cases, however, 
the action is not produced by the pure metal, but by oxidized products. 
The blue pill and blue ointment of the Pharmacopoeia, both of which are 
made with the metal, are always found to contain more or less of an oxide. 
Thus the " blue ointmeut" has more thau once proved fatal to sheep from 
its being used as a wash for the fly, and moreover, no doubt more or less 
impregnates the flesh, thereby rendering it unfit for food. In all samples 
of " Hyd. c Cret." some of the mercury will be found to have become 
oxidized, and for this reason gray powder is a somewhat uncertain prep- 
aration, as the amount of the oxide formed varies considerably according 
to the length of time it has been made, and the extent to which it has 
been exposed to air and sunlight. 

This fact may be important in explaining some anomalous cases that 
are on record of poisoning from " Hyd. c Cret." and from other mercurial 

The most important compound of mercury from a medico-legal point of 
view, is corrosive sublimate. We must therefore deal with this in some 
detail. Other preparations have from time to time been used for criminal 



purpose?, and these we shall briefly notice. We append a table of some 
of the mercurial salts, many of which, however, are of but little interest 
or importance toxicologieally. 


cury (Cor 
cury < Cal 

Mercuric Chloride, or Perchloride of Me 

rosive Sublimate), 
Mercurous Chloride or Subcbloride of Me 


Ammonio-Chloride of Mercury -White 

Mercuric Oxide (Red Precipitate . . 

Mercurous Oxide ( Black i, 

Mercuric Sulphate, .... 

Mercurous Sulphate, 

Mercuric Osysulphate i Turpetli Mineral) 

Mercuric Sulphide Vermilion), 

JEthiops Mineral — Mixture of Sulphide of Mercury 

and Sulphur, 
Mercuric Nitrate, 
Mercurous Nitrate, . 
Mercuric Iodide (Red Iodide),. 
Mercurous Iodide (.Green Iodide), 
Mercuric Cyanide, . 
Mercurous Chromate, 






HgS0 4 . 

Hg 2 S0 4 . 



Hg2XO s 2H,0. 

HgNO r 

Hgl r 


HgCy . 
Hg„Cr0 4 . 

Corrosive Sublimate or Mercuric Chloride | HgCl 2 ). 
(Bichloride, Chloride, Oxymuriate, Perchloride.) 

It is prepared by subliming a mixture of common salt and mercuric 

It is a powerful antiseptic. Wood and canvas are often soaked in a so- 
lution of the salt on account of its preservative power. It is used in the 
preservation of skins, for the destruction of vermin in man and animals, 
and also as a medicine for syphilis, etc. 

It is met with both as a white powder and in a crystalline form (rhom- 
bic prisms i, the crystals being permanent in the air. It has no smell, but 
its taste is intensely metallic. It has a specific gravity of 6.6. 

Heated on platinum-foil it melts, and at a temperature of 93.3° Cent, 
it sublimes in the form of stellate crystals. At 29-5° Cent, it boils, no 
residue being left on the foil. This complete volatilization is likewise 
characteristic of ammonia salts, of oxalic acid, and of arsenious acid. Its 
solubility in various liquids is as follows : 

9 grains of corrosive sublimate dissolves in 100 of water (10° Cent.). 
48 " " " " 100 of water (100° Cent.). 

30 " " " " 100 of alcohol. 

35 " " " " 100 of ether. 

1 " " " " 1700 of chloroform. 

It is decomposed by the fixed alkalies. It is not acted upon by sulphu- 
ric acid, but is soluble in nitric and hydrochloric acids. Albumen, fibrin, 
casein, gluten, gelatin, tannic acid, etc., decompose and precipitate it when 
in solution. Its solution or the crystals formed by evaporation or sublima- 
tiou are turned blade by sulphide of ammonium, scarlet by iodide of potas- 
sium, yellow by caustic potash or soda, and black by chloride of tin. If 



heated with three or four times its bulk of carbonate of soda the metal is 

Its solution in water is feebly acid to litmus-paper. 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

The symptoms in an unite case of mercurial poisoning set in verv soon, 
and in many cases immediately after the poison has been swallowed, the 
interval at most being only a few minutes. An intensely nauseous metal- 
lic taste and a fiery burning pain from throat to stomach are the first 
symptoms. The tongue and mouth appear white and shrivelled, as if 
washed with a solution of caustic silver, and the face flushed and intensely 
anxious. The other symptoms usually observed, are difficulty in breathing, 
a small thready pulse, abdominal swelling and pain, which is generally 
greatly increased on pressure (although curiously pain is sometimes absent), 
intense thirst, vomiting of white stringy or bloody mucus, bloody stools, 
cold and clammy skin, and a more or less complete suppression of urine. 
Salivation sometimes sets in about the third day, although in acute cases 
this is not an invariable symptom. Death is sometimes rapid from col- 
lapse, sometimes accompanied with convulsions, whilst at other times there 
is complete and intense coma from which the patient never rallies. 

The symptoms of poisoning by corrosive sublimate may be diagnosed 
from those of arsenic by : 

1. Their commencing sooner after the poison is swallowed. 

•_'. The intensely metallic taste of corrosive sublimate. 

3. The intense burning produced in the throat and gullet. 

4. The greater frequency of blood in the vomit and stools. 

It is a more actively poisonous drug than arsenic, because it is more 
soluble and has more powerful chemical reactions on animal structures. 

Three grains is the smallest quantity that has proved fatal. A case of 
five grains destroying life is recorded. Recovery has taken place after 
eighty grains. Children are less susceptible to its action than adults, the 
reverse being the case with opium. We are disposed to doubt, without 
much better verification than we at present possess, the stories of men who 
are said to have acquired a habit of eating corrosive sublimate until they 
could take a drachm of it daily. So runs the story of the celebrated 
Turk. Its external application has proved fatal. 

Death has been as rapid as half an hour, whilst it has been delayed for 
sixteen days. From three to six days is the average. 


White of egg in milk, or else wheat flour mixed with milk, should be 
given immediately. The white of one egg is said to be able to neutralize 
four grains of corrosive sublimate (Dr. Peschier i. It has been stated that 
too much albumen may be given, the compound formed being soluble in 
excess t" Lancet," May 18th, 1844, from the " Dublin Journal"). The 
author's experiments do not confirm this opinion. 

Vomiting should be encouraged by emetics. A mixture of iron filings 
and gold-dust has been recommended. By this means the mercury is said 
to be reduced. Supposing the antidote worth anything, it is not ofteu 
likelv to be at hand when wanted. If salivation is troublesome, gargles 
of alum aud chlorate of potash must be employed. The after treatment 
will depend on the symptoms, but white of egg in milk should be admin- 
istered two or three times daily for some few weeks. 


Chronic Mercurial Poisoning. 

The symptoms of chronic poisoning, known as shaking palsy, mercurial 
etc, occurring in those engaged in handling mercurial compounds, 
or, in those exposed to the fumes of mercury, vary somewhat in detail, but 
are tolerably constant in their leading characteristics. The time when the 
symptoms set in, is as variable as their duration. They will probably com- 
mence by the person complaining of debility, nausea, and vomiting, with 
frequently recurring colicky pains, and a constant and disagreeable coppery 
taste in the mouth. It will be noticed, moreover, that the breath of the 
patient is fetid, the breathing difficult, the act of swallowing an eriort. whilst 
there may be a constant hacking cough with occasional spitting of blood. 
Sooner or later salivation or ptyalism will become the prominent symptom, 
the tongue and gums becoming red, swollen, and ulcerated. It must, how- 
ever, be remembered that many thiugs produce salivation besides mercury, 
and hence we must never be hasty in drawing conclusions from this symp- 
tom alone. Bromine ^"Ediuburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," July, 
1842 i, arsenic ("London Medical Gazette," 16), antimony, lead (Christi- 
son, p. 514), prussic acid "Medical and Physiological Journal," vol. 46, 
pp. 359 and 363 >, nux vomica ("London Medical Repository," 19, p. 448), 
as well as gold, cantharides, digitalis, conium, belladonna, opium, and par- 
ticularly iodide of potassium, have all been known at times to produce sali- 
vation I "Lancet." Sept. 3d, 1842, p. 807 I. Mercurial ptyalism, however, 
is peculiar in two respects, viz., the extreme fetor of the breath, and the 
painful sponginess of the gums. If any question exists, however, as to the 
cause of the salivation, all doubt can be set at rest by examining the 
saliva, where, if it be due to mercury, the metal is sure to be discovered. 

Not unfrequently has canerum oris following some debilitating disease 
in ill-cared for children, been explained by parents as due to mercurial 
salivation ; and as very possibly the doctor may have administered a dose 
of some preparation of mercury as a mild laxative, the charge may seem 
to the outside world to have some weight. A dark red line in chronic 
mercurial poisoning may often be observed in the gums, and sometimes 
also a blue line, not unlike that produced by the action of lead. This, 
however, is by no means a constant symptom. The teeth, too, according 
to Dr. Guy, are often very brittle. 

Another well-marked symptom of chronic poisoning is the trembling 
and convulsive movements of the limbs (mercurial tremors), attacking in 
the first instance the upper extremities, then extending to the lower, walk- 
ing thereby being rendered difficult. By leaving off work, and by active 
and appropriate treatment, such as great attention to cleanliness and the 
internal administration of white of egg, the patient may possibly recover, 
but on the other hand severe cases occur where death results from an in- 
tense exhaustion, accompanied by gangrene of the mouth and other severe 

In looking-glass manufactories, where it is common for the work-people 
to suffer from symptoms of mercurial poisoning, Dr. Mever recommends 
as an excellent prophylactic the sprinkling the workshop every evening 
freelv with ammonia after the day's work is done ("Lancet," April 26th, 
1873, p. 601 . 

We may further notice that one case is recorded where metallic mercury 
was L'iven, but without result, to produce abortion ("Lancet," March 8th, 
1873, p. 339 , whilst mercurial tremors were produced by the action of 
the metal. 


Experiments on Animals. 

The experiments on animals are important, and may be thus summa- 
rized : 

1. Six to twenty grains of corrosive sublimate inserted into the stomach 
of rabbits and cats, killed them in from five to twenty-five minutes, insen- 
sibilitv being produced in a few minutes, and afterwards convulsions 

2. The local action of the poison on the living stomach is similar to its 
action when applied to the dead stomach, the tissue being rendered thereby 
gray and brittle. 

3. When the chest was opened directly after death, the heart was found 
motionless or contracting but feebly, whilst the blood in the left side was 
arterial (Sir B. Brodie). 

4. Doses of three, four, or five grains cause death, when applied to a 
wound, in from two to five days. Dysenteric symptoms usually occur, 
inflammation or even ulceration of the stomach and rectum being noticed 
after death. The lungs and the heart are generally inflamed (Orfila and 

5. The inflammation of the lungs and the inflammation of the stomach 
and rectum is even more marked when the poison is injected into the blood. 
Death after this form of administration is sometimes very rapid (Gaspard). 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

The abdomen is generally very tympanitic. The salivary glands will 
be found enlarged, and saliva trickling from the mouth. The tongue is 
frequently shrivelled, the papilla at the base being enlarged and very 

The mucous membrane of the mouth and throat frequently has a gray- 
ish-white appearance, whilst at other times it is found to be intensely in- 
flamed and even corroded. Where there has been salivation, the parts 
may even be in a state of slough. The stomach is often covered with a 
slate-colored precipitate of finely divided mercury (Plate II), or if putre- 
iaction has commenced, with a black deposit of the sulphide. Sometimes, 
however, it is intensely inflamed, the inflammation being greater than that 
found even in arsenical poisoning. Perforation is rare. The intestines 
generally are much congested, and so also are the whole urinary organs, 
the bladder being often empty and contracted. 

Dr. Byasson has examined with great care the time it takes for a solu- 
ble mercurial salt, introduced into the stomach, to get into the urine, saliva, 
and sweat. Corrosive sublimate he found takes two hours to reach the 
urine, and four hours to reach the saliva. He never found it in the per- 
spiration. Twenty-four hours after it has been taken he regards its elim- 
ination as complete ("Robin's Journal d'Anatomie et de Physiologie"). 

(See an extraordinary account of metallic mercury being found in the 
bones after death by corrosive sublimate, to such an extent that it was 
possible to shake out globules of the metal by striking the bone on the 
table; "Lancet," Sept. 20th, 1873, p. 429.) 


All the salts of mercury are volatile ; they are all reduced when heated 
with protochloride of tin, and they all yield a sublimate of metallic mer- 
cury when heated in a glass tube with carbonate of soda. 

1. With protosalts, such as calomel (HgCl) — 




(a) Pota*h, soda, and lime, give a black precipitate (Hg.,0). 

Sulphuretted Hydrogen and sulphide of ammonium givea black pre- 
cipitate i Hg_,s i. 
(r) Hydrochloric Acid gives a white precipitate (HgCl), which is 

turned black by ammonia. 
(S) Iodide of Potassium gives a greenish-yellow precipitate. 
(e) Ferrocyanide of Potassium gives a white gelatinous precipitate. 

2. With persalts] such as corrosive sublimate (HgCl a ) — 

(a) Potash, soda, and lime, give a bright yellow precipitate (HgO). 
(,:) Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives first a white precipitate (especially 

marked in dilute solutions), rapidly changing to black, passing 

through shades of yellow, orange, and brownish red. Sulphide 

of ammonium gives a black precipitate. 
(?-) Hydrochloric Arid gives no precipitate. 
(<J) Iodide of Potassium gives a yellow precipitate, becoming red, and 

being soluble in excess. 
(e) Ferrocyanide of Potassium gives a white precipitate, becoming 


Tests for Corrosive Sublimate. 

Our tests prove, as a rule, simply the existence of mercury. By careful 
search we may, in some cases, detect in the stomach and intestines, small 
undissolved pieces of corrosive sublimate. But this is not usual. It is 
well to remember, moreover, that mercury is a common medicine, and 
hence the necessity of guarded evidence, when a mere trace only is dis- 

A. Tests for solid corrosive sublimate. Note — 

(1) Its crystalline form under the microscope (Figs. 21 and 22). •. 

Fig. 21. Fig. 22. 

Crystals of Corrosive Sublimate from 
an aqueous solution, magnified SO 

Crystals of Corrosive Sublimate from an 
alcoholic solution, magnified SO diameters. 

(2) If a small portion be heated on platinum-foil it will be entirely dis- 
sipated, white fumes being given off. 

'■) Heated in a small tube, a characteristic crystalline sublimate may 
be obtained. 

(4) Mix a small quantity of the salt in a dry clean reduction-tube with 
four times its bulk of recently calcined carbonate of soda, covering the 
mixture over with a little additional carbonate. Heat the carbonate on 


the surface first with a spirit-lamp, and after this is thoroughly heated 
apply the heat to the mixture, when a globular sublimate of metallic mer- 
cury will be found to form in the cool part of the tube. 

(5) Break off the portion of the tube containing the fused residue, boil 
it in a little water acidulated with nitric acid, and precipitate the chlorine 
with a solution of nitrate of silver. The chloride of silver is soluble in am- 
monia. (Memo. — Test your carbonate of soda previously, to prove that 
it contains no chloride.) The remaining tests are best applied to a solu- 
tion of the poison. 

B. Tests for Solution of Corrosive Sublimate. 

(1) Iodide of potassium, gives a yellow precipitate, rapidly changing to 
a bright scarlet (Hgl. 2 ), freely soluble in excess of iodide of potassium, and 
to an extent in solutions of alkaline chlorides. Collect and allow the red 
precipitate to dry without the application of heat. 

(«) Heat a small portion on a piece of white paper, when the scarlet 
precipitate turns yellow, gradually changing back again to 
scarlet, if allowed to remain on the paper, or if rubbed with a 

(/?) Heat a small portion, mixed with four times its bulk of carbonate 
of soda, in a reduction-tube, when a sublimate of metallic mer- 
cury will be obtained in the cool part of the tube. 

(2) Sulphuretted hydrogen produces, at first, a white turbidity, which 
rapidly changes, as above, to a densely black precipitate of the sulphide. 
Sulphide of ammonium produces the same black precipitate as the gas. The 
precipitate is insoluble in boiling nitric acid. Collect the precipitate on a 
filter-paper, and dry. 

(a) Heat a small quantity in a dry reduction-tube, when it will be 
found to volatilize completely, a black sublimate being formed. 

(,J) Heated with carbonate of soda in a reduction-tube, a metallic 
sublimate will be produced. 

(3) Excess of potash or lime-water produces an orange yellow precipi- 
tate of the hydrated oxide, a reaction common to all the persalts of mer- 
cury. (A black precipitate is given with calomel.) Filter, examine the 
precipitate and filtrate as follows: 

(«) Heat the precipitate, when oxygen will be given off, which may 
be collected in a test-tube placed over water, and tested by its 
action on a glowing splinter. Reduced mercury will be found 
in the tube in which the precipitate was heated. 

(/5) The filtrate is to be acidulated with nitric acid, and tested for 
chlorine with nitrate of silver. 

(4) Protochloride of tin (Magpie test). (The experiment is best con- 
ducted in a watch-glass.) This gives with corrosive sublimate, acidulated 
with hydrochloric acid, first a white precipitate (calomel), afterwards 
becoming gray, and ultimately black, the black deposit being finely 
divided mercury. Apply heat to the mixture, pour off the supernatant 
liquid, and boil the precipitate with hydrochloric acid, wheu globules of 
metallic mercury will be obtained. 

{Memo. — This test is interfered with when either alkaline chlorates or 
free nitric acid is present.) 


5 Acidulate a solution of corrosive sublimate with a sixth of its bulk 
of hydrochloric acid. Put into the solution a piece of bright copper-foil. 
A Bilver coating of mercury will be after a time deposited on the copper 
even in the cold, the action being aided and rendered more rapid when 
heat is applied. Arsenic similarly treated will not be deposited at all on 
copper in the cold. Remove the copper slips, wash, and dry at a very 
gentle heat. 

(6) Place the slips of copper in a dry tube, and apply the heat of a 
spirit-lamp. The copper will entirely lose its silver coating, whilst a sub- 
limate of metallic mercury will form in the tube. 

Note respecting this sublimate — 

(a) It consists of perfect spheres, that are opaque to light and of a 

silvery white color. 
0?) They do not oxidize by successive resublimations. 
(y) Dissolve the sublimate in a few drops of a mixture of nitric and 

hydrochloric acids, heat on a sand-bath to dryness, and touch 

the residue with iodide of potassium, when it will turu first 

yellow, afterwards changing to scarlet. 

7. Acidulate a few drops of the solution of corrosive sublimate with 
hydrochloric acid ; place it on a piece of gold-foil, or upon a sovereign. 
Touch the edge of the gold with a key or other steel instrument, allowing 
another portion of the key to touch the metal through the liquid, when 
mercury will be deposited on the gold as a bright silver stain where the 
two metals meet. This silver stain may be entirely dissipated by the 
application of heat. 

Toxieological Analysis. 

(A.) In conducting an inquiry in a case of suspected poisoning, mix 
the contents of the stomach, together with the tissues cut up and crushed 
in a mortar, with sufficient alcohol to render filtration easy. Acidulate 
them with hydrochloric acid, and gently warm for some time. Filter and 
test the filtrate both by Reiusch's test and by sulphuretted hydrogen. All 
the materials on the filter-paper are then to be mixed with hydrochloric 
acid and water (one to four) boiled and filtered, the filtered liquid being 
then similarly examined by the process of Reinsch. 

In this way we shall be able to prove the presence of mercury, but not 
of corrosive sublimate. Proof of this, however, may sometimes be obtained 
by concentrating the contents of the stomach by evaporation, and shaking 
them up with a large bulk of ether, in which corrosive sublimate is very 
soluble. The ether is to be carefully decanted, distilled off at a gentle 
heat, and the residue tested for the salt. 

(B.) To detect mercury in the saliva (which is one great means of its 
elimination), acidulate about two drachms of the saliva with hydrochloric 
acid, and put into the mixture a small piece of clean, bright copper, and 
note whether it becomes covered with a silver deposit. The copper may 
then be gently heated in a reduction-tube, and in this way the metal 
obtained and tested accordingly. 

' < '. > In examining the urine, evaporate down about fourteen ounces to 
one ounce. Acidulate this with hydrochloric acid, filter, aud boil the 
filtrate with a piece of bright copper-foil, and proceed as already directed. 

(D.) In a case where arsenic and corrosive sublimate are mixed together, 
either the corrosive sublimate may be separated by agitation with ether in 
which corrosive sublimate is soluble aud arsenic is not, or the arsenic may 
be distilled off as a chloride. 


Cases have occurred where chemical analysis has foiled to find the 
poison, after death from its exhibition. Dr. Byasson regards its elimina- 
tion as usually complete even after twenty-four hours, whilst most experi- 
menters agree that if a patient lives for fourteen davs after the poison has 
been swallowed, there will be but little chance of finding it. 

Quantitative Estimation. 
Mercury is estimated quantitatively as a sulphide. 

100 grains HgS = 86.2 Hg. 

= 116.81 HgCl,. 
= 101.07 HgCL 
= 108.42 HgtLXCl. 

Calomel. (Mercurous Chloride. HgCl.) 

Calomel may destroy life, either by its powerful irritant action, or by 
causing gangrenous ulceration of the mouth and throat from the excessive 
salivation it produces. Twenty grains, and even a less quantity than this, 
has produced fatal results. Its action, as a poison and as a medicine, is 
curiously modified both by disease and idiosyncrasy. Nor must we forget 
the possibility that a trace of corrosive sublimate may be present in calo- 
mel, which at times is more than sufficient to explain its violent and un- 
looked-for action. Mr. Tosswill records cases of salivation being produced 
in one case by two and a half, and in a second case by five grains of calo- 
mel (" Lancet," September 4th, 1841, p. 863). Dr. Munk records the 
case of a woman being salivated by one grain of calomel, all the family 
being equally susceptible to its influence ("Lancet," January 18th, 1840, 
p. 626); whilst another case is on record where two grains produced sali- 
vation, exfoliation of the lower jaw, and death (" Lancet," November 25th, 
1837, p. 294). Further, it is recorded that salivation has been produced 
where calomel has simply been applied externally (" Lancet," 1850, vol. 
i, p. 195). 

Calomel has been used for worm lozenges, and death been caused thereby 
("Medical Times and Gazette," April 24th, 1858, p. 431). 

Calomel is a heavy white powder without taste or smell. It volatilizes 
at 115.0° Cent, as an amorphous powder. Unlike corrosive sublimate it 
is insoluble in water, alcohol, or ether. It is turned black by caustic 
potash, by ammonia, and by sulphide of ammonium. Protochloride of tin, 
as in the case of corrosive sublimate, turns it black, and if this be heated 
in a reduction-tube with carbonate of soda, the metal will be reduced, and 
may be collected as a sublimate. 

]]liite Precipitate (Ammoniated Mercurv ; Ammonio-Chloride of Mercurv, 


A question has been raised whether this substance is a poison, but there 
can be very little doubt that it is so. Dr. Pavy's experiments have proved 
conclusively that it is far more powerful in its action than was once sup- 
posed. Four or five grains was found to kill a rabbit. The mercury after 
death was found specially deposited in the liver. 

White precipitate is prepared by adding ammonia to a solution of cor- 
rosive sublimate, the precipitate being collected, washed, and dried. 

It is a white amorphous heavy powder, insoluble in water, alcohol, or 
ether. Dr. Taylor says that the white precipitate of the shops frequently 


coutains one or two per cent, of corrosive sublimate. Heated with a solu- 
tion of potash, it gives off ammonia vapor which browns turmeric-paper, 
tlic solution turning yellow from the formation of the oxide of mercury. 
It is soluble in acids. Heated with carbonate of soda, a metallic subli- 
mate is formed. In conducting a toxicological investigation the organic 
fluids and solids must be boiled in dilute hydrochloric acid, and filtered, 
when upon adding some pieces of bright copper to the filtrate, metallic 
mercury will be deposited. 

Bed Precipitate (Mercuric Oxide. HgO). 

This is prepared by heating mercury exposed to the air to nearly its 
boiling-point, when oxygen is absorbed, and the oxide formed on the sur- 
face of the metal. 

It is used, mixed with grease, as a vermin-killer. It is an active poison, 
but has seldom been used for criminal purposes. 

It is usually found in the form of shining scales of a red color. It is 
insoluble in water, but soluble in hydrochloric acid. is resolved 
into oxygen and metallic mercury. 

TurpeUi or Turbeth Mineral (Mercuric Oxysulphate. Hg 3 O..S0 4 ). 

One drachm of this salt iu one case proved fatal to a boy iu seven days, 
and in another case forty grains proved fatal to an adult in eleven days. 
The symptoms produced were those of an irritant poison. It is a heavy 
yellow powder, soluble in 2000 parts of water. When heated, fumes of 
sulphurous acid are evolved, a sublimate of the metal being produced. 

Mercuric Sulphide i Hg> . 

This body is known as vermilion when in the form of powder, and em- 
nai'irwheu in lumps. It has been used on account of its brilliant tint for 
coloring confectionery, wafers, etc., and also as a coloring matter for the 
vulcanized rubber which is largely employed in the manufacture of frames 
for artificial teeth. Its use for this purpose is very much to be deprecated 
("British Medical Journal," September 5tb, 1863, and "Medical Press 
and Circular," December 9th, 1874). Oue of the authors (Dr. Woodman) 
has shown ("Transactions of Odontological Society of Great Britain") 
the serious results that may arise from its employment. The red vulcanite 
coutains a quantity of vermilion, varying from 33 to 36 per cent. No 
doubt, as Orfila pointed out, large doses mav be given to dogs, without 
poisoning symptoms being induced. From this he inferred that, as a poi- 
son, it was almost inert, a couclusion, however, which is qnite at variance 
with the general experience of physicians, when it is administered in the 
form of vapor-baths for syphilis. The poisonous action produced by it in 
the form of vulcanite teeth-plates, may either be due to the formation of 
a small quantity of corrosive sublimate by the action of the chlorides of 
the saliva and of food, or to the escape of portions of the unmixed pig- 
ment from cracks or fissures in the plate, either in the solid form, or in the 
shape of vapor. 

It may be known from red lead by its not being blackened with sulphide 
of ammonium, and from red precipitate by its insolubility in hydrochloric 

It is a heavy substance, insoluble both in water and hydrochloric acid, 
and is entirely dissipated by heat. Heated with carbonate of soda in a 
tube, globules of mercury will be formed. 

If present inorganic liquids or solids, they must be acted on with nitro- 


hydrochloric acids, and evaporated to dryness. The corrosive sublimate 
thus formed must be dissolved in water or spirit, and tested accordingly. 

Mercuric Nitrate (Hg'2N0 3 , 2H 2 0) and Mercurous Nitrate (HgN0 3 , H 2 0). 

Both are solid white poisonous salts, and act as strong corrosives. They 
are soluble in water, the solutions having acid reactious. Thev have been 
used as applications to the throat and to the neck of the uterus. A sub- 
limate of the metal is formed when the salts are heated with carbonate of 

Mercuric Cyanide (HgCy 2 ). 

Twenty grains of this salt has proved fatal. The crystals are white, 
heavy, and soluble in cold water. It is as poisonous as corrosive sublimate, 
and the symptoms produced by it are similar. Cyanogen gas, which burns 
with a rose-colored flame, is given off when the salt is heated. If it be 
treated with hydrochloric acid in a retort, and heat applied, hydrocyanic 
acid will distil over, whilst the solution in the retort will give a black pre- 
cipitate when treated with sulphuretted hydrogen. 

Mercuric Sulpkocyanide (Pharaoh's serpent). 

A case of severe symptoms being produced from taking the salt (a 
Pharaoh's serpent) is recorded, but the patient recovered. 

Mercuric Methide. 

This is a colorless, heavy, inflammable liquid, having an ethereal smell 
and taste. It contains 87 per cent, of mercury. It boils at 93° C. 

Cases of Poisoning by Mercury and Us Preparations. 

CASE 1.— "Lancet," October 27th, 1838, p. 215 [Mr. J. W. Potter). Female: a;t. 19. Eigbteen 
grains of blue pill. 

Symptoms. — Intense salivation; deatb. 

Result. — Deatb in ten days. 

CASE 2.—" Lancet," March 8th, 1873, p. 339 (Sir Duncan Gibb). Female: at. 20. Siv given to pro- 
duce abortion. 

Symptoms. — Administered to the woman when three months pregnant. In a few days mercurial 
tremors set in— lasted until confinement ; no salivation. The child at birth had the snuffles. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.—" Medical Times and Gazette," May 2d, 1863, p. 466. Female. Blue pill. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 4.—" British Medical Journal," January 11th, 1868, p. 43. Blue ointment. Numerous cases. 

Symptoms.— One case died ; salivation in forty other cases. 

Result. — Death in one case. 


CASE 5.— :" Lancet," December 13th, 1845, p. 650 (Dr. Herapath). Male : adult. 5j. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in two minutes; diarrhoea in fifteen minutes; ptyalism on the third day, 
coma and convulsions on the eighth, and death on the tenth. 

Result. — Death on tenth day. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and intestines inflamed; ca?cal extremity of ileum almost gangrenous; 
caecum inflamed and gangrenous; rectum much inflamed ; lungs congested. 

CASE 6.— "Lancet," September 16th, 1871, p. 413 (Dr. Meeres). Female: :et. 9. Applied for ring- 
worm. One application. 

Symptoms. — Salivation in two or three days. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 7.—" Archiv. Gen. de Med.," vol. ix, p. 463-^M. Devergie). Female. Siij in solution. 

Symptoms. — Pain, vomiting, and purging; lips and tongue white and shrivelled ; diarrhoea. 

Result. — Death in twenty-three hours. 


CASE 8— "Medical Gazette." v,.l. viii, p. 616 (Dr. Venables). Dose 

Symptoms. — Pain, bloody vomiting, diarrhoea, and suppression of urine. No salivation. 

Result. — Death in eight days. 

CASE v.— "Lancet. " May 6th, 1S4S, p. 500 (Mr. Wade). Male: set. 21. Over 5j in solution. 

Symptoms. — Mucous membrane of the mouth not affected. Vomiting set in almost immediately, 
the vomit being bloody : pain not increased by pressure. At the end of two days the man was much 
better. On the third day there was a sudden failure of the powers of respiration. 

Result. — Death on third day. 

Postmortem.— Mouth and oesophagus healthy; cardiac end of stomach black and gangrenous; py- 
loric end healthy, excepting a few red patches; heart empty; blood fluid ; respiratory organs very 

CASE 10.— "Medical Times and Gazette," February 18th, I860, p. 162 (Dr. Coghlan). Male: set. 19. 
Twelve grains taken on empty stomach. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and retching in three minutes; purging in a quarter of an hoir; salivation 
on the th<rd day. Not much pain. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE II.— Orfila's "Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 263. Male. Alcoholic solution. 

Symptoms. — Instant tightness in the throat aud burning in the stomach; vomiting and purging; 
great pain ; micturition diltieult and uriue scanty ; breathing oppressed ; tendency to doze; cramps. 
No salivation. 

Result. — Recovery in eight days. 

CASE 12— "Journal de Chimie Medicate," 1842, p. 291 (Yautier). Sixteen grains. 

Symptoms. — Pain ; tremblings of arms and legs; vomiting. No salivation. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 13.— "Medical Times," June 15th, 1844, p. 228. (From "Edinburgh Monthly Journal." Dr. 

Symptoms. — Patient lived seven days, but there was no real salivation. 

Result. — Death on seventh day. 

Post-mortem. — Effects of poison almost entirely confined to alimentary canal; oesophagus, stomach, 
ileum, colon, and particularly the rectum, were much congested; bladder also inflamed. 

CASE 14.—" Guy's Hospital Reports," April, 1844, p. 24. Dose (?.) 

Symptoms. — Complete suppression of urine. 

Result. — Death in fuurdays. 

CASE 15.— Casper's " Wochenschrift," January 10th, 1846, p. 30 (Dr. WegelerX Male : set. 17. 3iij. 

Symptoms.— "So urine secreted during the last three days; no pain in the abdomen on pressure. 

Resull. — Death on sixth day. 

CASE 16.— " American Journal of Medical Science," April, 1863, p. 340 (Dr. Johnston). Male. 
Eighty grains taken in whisky and water. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in ten minutes; (albumen, milk, gold-leaf, and iron given). No salivation. 

Result. — Recovery in ei^ht days. 

CASE 17.— "Edinburgh Monthly Journal," December, 1851, p. 532 (Dr. Thomson). Male. 5ij- 

Result. — Death in forty hours. 

Post-mortem. — Mucous membrane of stomach, duodenum, upper part of the ileum, parts of the 
large intestines (especially the caecum and sigmoid flexure of the colony were of a bright red color. 

CASE 18.— "Medical Times and Gazette," February 26th, 1859, p. 210 (Mr. Roberts). Male: set. 
42. Thirty grains mixed with half an ounce of tincture of percbloride of iron. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms began in a few minutes; burning pain from gullet to stomach. No saliva- 

Result.— Death on twelfth day. 

Post- mortem.— Stomach empty, softened, and red, and, towards the intestines, pulpy and gangren- 
ous; intestines intensely inflamed, almost gangrenous. 

CASE 19.— " Edinburgh Monthly Journal," vol. i, 1860, p. 958. Sixty to eighty grains. 

Symptoms. — No symptoms on the first day; mouth and gums affected on the third day ; on the 
eighth day was apparently well ; and on the twelfth day died. 

Result. — Death on twelfth day. 

CASE 2u.— "Lancet," February 1st, 1862, p. 119 'Dr. Skegg). Male:a?t.54. One hundred and twelve 

Symptoms. — Symptoms came on very soon; intense pain and bloody purging ; mouth and tongue 
white; skin blanched: vomiting of a stringy substance. 

Resull.— Death in three hours and a quarter. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach externally deep red, internally of a dark crimson color; intestines red- 

CASE 21. — Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 2S3. Male: set. 25. Five grains dissolved 
in vinegar. 

Symptoms. — immediate beat and vomiting; bloody stools and vomit; urine suppressed. Greater 
part of the poison was got rid of by vomiting. 

Result. — Death in six days. 

Post-mortem. — Mucous membrane of stomach reddened; no appearance of corrosion ; small and 
large intestines deeply congested. 


CASE 22.— "Lancet," February 26th, 1S70, p. 302 (Dr. Eade). Male: set. 49. Lump of corrosive sub- 
limaie weighing over nj. taken when drunk. 

Symptoms. — Ejected from stomach in one hour. Ordinary symptoms, with suppression of urine, 
set in on the third day ; salivation on the fifth day. 

Result. — Death on eighth day. 

Post-mortem. — Lungs highly congested; heart healthy and empty; upper third of the oesophagus 
in a sloughy condition; stomach grayish, with patches of redness; all the intestines congested; 
bladder empty. 

CASE 23.— "British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review," October, I860, p. 3S0. Male: «t. 
27. Fifty grains. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms commenced immediately. 

Result.— Death on sixteenth day. 

See also the following Cases of Poisonirg with Bichloride of Mercury. 

"British Medical Journal." August Sth, 1S63, p. 163. Recovery after taking forty grains. Gold- 
leaf and iron-filings administered. 

" British Medical Journal," August 22d, 1874, p. 259. Poisoning by minute doses. 

Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 282. Three grains. Death. 
" " " vol. i. p. 283. Death in thirty minutes. 

li Medical Gazette," vol. xlvi, p. 253. Death in fifteen days. No mercury found after death. 

"Provincial Medical Journal," November 18th, 1843, p. 126. No purging; urine secreted in small 


CASE 24— "Lancet," February sth, 1840, p. 737 'Dr. R.Williams). Female: adult. A penny- 
worth. (?). 
Symptoms. — Symptoms not very severe. Stomach-pump used. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 25.— "Lancet," October 14th, 1871, p. 540 (Dr. Ogle. i. Female: adult. Thirty to forty grains. 

Symptoms. — Pain at epigastrium, and for twenty-four hours twitching of the muscles of the left arm 
and leg. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 26.— Reg. v. Moore (Lewes, I860). Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 2S9. A woman ad- 
ministered it to her husband. Acquitted on the ground that it was not a poison. 

CASE 27.— "Medical Times and Gazette," December 19th, 1863, p. 645 (Dr. GreenhowX Female: 
adult. Swallowed first a pennyworth of white precipitate, and then a pennyworth of sugar of lead. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and pain in half an hour; afterwards drowsiness. Salivation set in on the 
third day, with convulsive twitching of limbs. Salivation ceased on the eighth day. 

Result — Recovery. 

CASE 28. — Reg. v. Hargraves (Manchester, 1866). A girl attempted to poison her father. 

CASE 29.— "Lancet," July 4th, 1857, p. 9 (Mr. Giles). Female. About 5ss. 
Symptoms. — Immediate pain and sickness; swelling of face; salivation. 
Result. — Recovery in about a month. 

CASE 3o — " Medical Times and Gazette," May 5th, I860, p. 444 (Mr. Short). Male: at. three 
months. Twenty grains. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Congestion of mucous membrane of the oesophagus : stomach normal, except one 
patch of inflammation. 

CASE 31.— "British Medical Journal," April 10th, 1869, p. 329 (Dr. Graham). Male: at. 35. About 

Symptoms. — Pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea; collapse after ten hours. At do time wlis there any 
blue line in the gums or was there salivation. Blood was passed freely from bowels. 

Result. — Recovery. 

See also the following Case of Poisoning with White Precipitate ; 

" Medical Times and Gazette," March 5th, 1S64, p. 250. Female : set. 9. Death from the ointment 
applied to scalp to kill vermin. 


CASE 32— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 290. Female: set. 22. A quantity. (?) 
Symptoms.— Surface cold «nd clammy; narcotic stupor; occasional vomiting of red matters- pain 
and cramps in the lower extremities. After four days she was still under the influence of the mer- 


CASE S3.— "Irish Hospital Gazette," October 15th, 1878 (Mr. Russell). Female: let. 15. Half an 
ounce taken l»y mistake. 

Symptom*.— No urgent symptoms until the following day, when her lips, gums, and mouth became 
sore and swollen, a distinct mercuiial fetor issued from the breath, the patient complaining of 
headache and pain. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 34.—" Lancet," March 13th, 1847, p. 28S (Dr. Letheby). Male; a?t. 16. 5j. 

Svniptonu.— Burning pain; sickness; diarrhoea ; salivation on the third day. Never either lost his 
senses, or became comatose, or had convulsions. 

Result.— Death in seven days, 

Post-mortem.— Lips and gums of a leaden blue ; from mouth to anus the alimentary canal was red, 
and studded with livid petechial spots, these being especially marked on the csecum ; intestines con- 

CASK 35.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 291. Male : ast. 27. By on empty stomach. 

Symptoms. — Purging and vomiting in ten minutes; pain in abdomen. Symptoms for a time im- 
proved, but he died on the eleventh day. 

Result — Death on eleventh day. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and iutestines inflamed and softened. 

CASE 36.— "Medical Times and Gazette," August 22d, 1863, p. 195 (Mr. Lowndes). Male: set. 28. 
5j of the powder taken in mistake for tethiops mineral. 

Symptoms. — Immediate burning sensation iu the throat; vomiting; purging; cramps. Slight 
salivation on the second day. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 37.— "Medical Times," September 27th, 1845, p. 17. Female. Vapor of 5iij applied to can- 
cerous breast 

Symptoms. — Salivation, fever, and oedematous state of the right arm after three fumigations. 


CASE 38.—" British Medical Journal," January 27th, 1872, p. 113 (Dr. Hickenbotham). Female: 
set. 30. 5ss. «>fa solution of mercury in nitric acid (dressiug for sheep-rot). 

Symptom*. — Immediate violent pains ; faintness. 

Resutt.—De-.ah in twenty-five minutes. 

Post-mortem. — Mouth white, gullet and stomach corrugated. In some places the mucous membrane 
was quite destroyed. 

CASE 39.— "Medical Gazette," vol. vi, p. 329 (Dr. Bigsby). Male: set. 16. A teaspoonful of mer- 
cury dissolved in strong nitric acid. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms set in very soon : pain, purging, and colic: mucous vomiting. 

Result. — Death in two hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach inflamed and corroded. 

CASE 40.—" Guy's Hospital Reports," October, 1850, p. 206. Application to throat as an escharotic. 

Symptoms. — Death immediate by asphyxia. 

Result. — Death immediate. 

CASE 41.—" Edinburgh Monthly Journal," 1864, p. 168. Application to the skin as a liniment. 

Symptoms.— Ordinary symptoms of mercurial poisoning ; death on the ninth day. 

Result. — Death on the ninth day. 

Post-mortem, — Stomach and intestines inflamed, with patches of ecchymosis. Mercury found in 
the liver. 

CASE 42. — Reg. v. E. Smith (Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 292). A girl accused of 
administering it to her mistress in chamomile tea. 

CASE 43.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 292 (Dr. Taylor). Male: at. 32. Chronic 
poisoning from its use during a period of four years for packing furs, which were brushed over with 
the nitrate of mercury. 

Symptoms.— After three years he lost power in his bands; salivation set in soon after he com- 
menced the work. No mercury was fouud in the urine. Died fourteen days after his admission to 
the hospital. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-murtem. — Brain and spinal cord healthy. Mercury found in brain, kidneys, and liver. 

See also the following Case of Poisoning by the Nitrate: 

"British Medical Journal," May 10th, 1873, p. 537; "Medical Gazette," vol. xlv, p. 1025. Chronic 
mercurial paralysis, produced from using a solution of mercuric nitrate for steeping wool preparatory 
to its undergoing the process of felling. 



CASE 44.— Orfila, "Toxicologic" vol. i, p. 735. Twenty grains. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms immediate: vomiting, salivation, suppression of urine, purging, and con 
Result. — Death in nine days. 
Post-mortem— Stomach and intestines very inflamed. 

CASE 45.— "Christison," p. 427. Ten grains. 

Result.— Death in nine days. 

CASE 46. — Virchow's "Archly," vol. xxxi, p. 117. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 47.— "Union Med.," vol. 110, p. 525, 1865. Male: set. 19. Swallowed a whole Pharaoh's 

Symptoms. — Pain; difficulty of swallowing ; vomiting, which gave some relief; sluveriugsand great 
weakness (lime-water given). 

Result. — Rec o v e r y . 


CASE 48.— "St. Bartholomew's Hospital Reports," 1865, vol. i, p. 141 (Dr. Edwards). Engaged in 
preparation of mercuric methide. 

Symptoms. — Impairment of sight was the first symptom noticed; numbness of hands, deafness, and 
mercurial fetor and swelling of gums ; delirium; loss of power on left side. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. Brain very congested and oedematous; kidneys congested. 

CASE 49.— "St. Bartholomews Hospital Reports," 1865, vol. i, p. 141 ^Dr. Edwards). Male: *et. 23. 
Engaged in preparation of mercuric methide. 

Symptoms. — Weakness, soreness of gums, dimness of sight, giddiness, nausea, and vomiting; deaf- 
ness; lost sensation and power of motion; delirium. 

Result.— Death. 

MOLYBDENUM. (Mo = 92.) 

This is usually found as a sulphide, the ore much resembling black lead 
in appearance. It is a gray metal and oxidizes when heated in the air 
(Mo0 3 ). Molybdic acid is used in the laboratory as a means of detecting 
traces of phosphoric acid. 

It is a very feeble poison. Thirty grains of molybdate of ammonia was 
found to kill a rabbit in two hours. In dogs, however, it merely produces 
purging and vomiting, whilst even ten grains injected into the jugular vein 
will not prove fatal. 

NICKEL. (Xi = 59.) 

Nickel is largely used in the composition of German silver (copper, zinc, 
and nickel). Vomiting is freely induced in a dog by a dose of twenty 
grains of the sulphate, whilst ten grains injected into the jugular vein will 
destroy life instantly. 


1. Sulphide of ammonium gives a black precipitate (NiS). 

2. Ammonia gives a green precipitate (NiH,0,) soluble in excess. 

3. It gives a purple gray to the borax bead in the reducing flame, and 
a violet in the oxidizing flame of the blowpipe. 

OSMIUM. (Os = 199.) 

Osmium is the least fusible of all the metals. It oxidizes in a current 
of air (OsO, ), the oxide having a pungent smell, and being freely soluble 
iu water. 

The oxide is said to be almost as active a poison as arsenic. One and 


a halt' grains administered by the mouth will kill a dog in a day, whilst 
half that quantity will prove fatal iu one hour if injected into a vein. It 
seems to act as a pure irritant. 

Several French investigators have noticed the deleterious action of osmic 
acid. Amongst these are M. Fremy, M. Sainte Claire Deville (who him- 
self was seized with persistent nervous asthma under its influence 1 . M. 
Debray who suffered from some affection of the eyes caused by in, and 
M. Juliet) Clement (in whom it induced a peculiar cutaneous disease which 
was found very difficult to cure). 

A case of supposed poisoning by osmic acid, is related by M Raymond 
in " Le Progres Medicale" I 27th June, 1874). A man aged thirty, worked 
for a short time in the laboratory of M. Sainte Claire Deville, being out of 
employment in his usual work i bandbox maker). Here he daily handled 
pieces of osmium, platinum, and iridium. Iu the process to which these 
were subjected, an osmiate of baryta was produced. This was treated with 
nitric acid, and the osmium precipitated with sulphide of ammonium. 

The man up to the time of beginning this new occupation was perfectly 
well and healthy, nor was there any history of syphilis. 

Shortly after commencing the work, he was takeu ill, the first symptoms 
of which he complained being pains in the eyes. He slept heavily at night, 
and was much troubled with nightmares. After a short time an extensive 
eruption appeared on the surface of the forearm, as well as on the face, 
and on both sides of the hands. 

Extreme indigestion, frequent diarrhoea fnine or ten times daily), the 
passage at each stool of a quantity of black blood (the patient having no 
piles), and violent headaches, were the prominent symptoms as the case 
progressed. Nausea but without vomiting, shiverings, extreme dyspnoea, 
and cough rapidly supervened. On his admission to the hospital, the one 
prominent symptom was the extreme difficulty in breathing, amounting 
almost to threatening asphyxia. The temperature was 40° C. (104° F. . 
The chest on examination revealed the existence of a general bronchitis, 
and on the left side a somewhat extensive pneumonia. The skin of the 
hands and forearm was sprinkled with large and small papules of a red 
and brown color, whilst the urine contained a large amount of albumen. 

The man died eight days after his admission to the hospital. The pueu- 
monia increased in severity, the temperature continued at 104 = F. ; no 
apparent diminution taking place in the amount of albumen in the urine, 
whilst the weakness gradually became extreme. 

At the post-mortem the lungs showed extensive evidence of pneumonia. 
In one lung there was a gangrenous cavern in course of formation. On 
examination with the microscope, pus-globules were discovered in the pul- 
monary cells of both lungs. The kidneys, too, showed the pathological 
appearances indicating Bright's disease. In the stomach there was a con- 
siderable amount of inflammatory action along the greater curvature. The 
other organs were healthy. On chemical examination, however, of the 
several viscera, no trace of the poison, which was the supposed cause of 
the illness, was discovered. 

M. Raymond, however, concludes by stating that the case, iu his opinion, 
was one of unquestionable poisoning by osmic acid. 

PALLADIUM iPd = 106.5). 

This metal is found in platinum ores, and is nearly as infusible as plati- 
num. It is remarkable for its power of absorbing hydrogen. It can be 
dissolved in nitric acid, when a brown solution is formed. 

The chloride given internally is not more energetic in its action than 


the corresponding platinum salt, but it is far more intensely active when 
injected into a vein. Two-thirds of a grain has been found to kill a dog 
in a minute. 

PLATINUM. (Pt = 198. Sp. Gr. 21.5.) 

All the salts of platinum act as irritant poisons. 

Twelve grains of the chloride (PtCl 4 ) given to a dog killed it in the 
course of a day, whilst half that quantity will prove fatal when injected 
into a vein. 


(The PtCl, is the only convenient solution for testing.) 

1. Caustic potash and ammonia give yellow precipitates. 

2. Sulphuretted hydrogen gives a dark-brown precipitate (PtS 2 ), soluble 
in sulphide of ammonium. Before passing the H 2 S through the solution, 
add to it an equal bulk of a solution of common salt. 

3. Boiled with carbonate of soda and sugar, a precipitate of metallic 
platinum (platinum-black) falls. 

4. A solution of chloride of ammonium gives a yellow precipitate of the 
double chloride of platinum and ammonium (PtCl 4 , 2NH 4 C1). 

SILVER. (Ag = 108.) 
Sp. Gr. 10.5. 

Silver is sometimes found native, usually in the form of a sulphide, 
occasionally as a chloride, but never as an oxide. It is also found in 
many metallic ores, as in those of lead and copper. It is very malleable 
and ductile. Electroplate consists of a coating of pure silver deposited 
on a white alloy by galvauic action. The purer the silver the easier it is 
found to tarnish, and hence the reason why electroplate so soon loses its 
brilliancy. Silver itself is not a poison, and the only salt of importance 
medico-legally is the nitrate. 

Silver Oxide, . 
Silver Nitrate, 
Silver Sulphate, 
Silver Sulphide, 
Silver Chloride, 

Ag 2 = 232. 
AgNO, = 170. 
Ag.,S0 4 = 312. 
Ag,"S = 248. 
AgCl = 143.5 

Nitrate of Silver. AgN0 3 = 170. 

(Lunar Caustic — Lapis Iufernalis.) 

Lunar Caustic is found in shops either in sticks or in crystals. It is 
prepared by dissolving silver iu dilute nitric acid, evaporating the solution 
to dryness, and crystallizing out the salt. Its solution in water rapidly 
decomposes in the presence of organic matter, a black insoluble compound 
being formed. Hence its use for marking linen. The black stains may, 
to a great extent, be removed by potassium cyanide. It is largely used 
by photographers. 

Experiments on Animals — Symptoms, etc. 

Orfila's experiments on nitrate of silver prove, that when injected into 
the veins its action is energetic. Two grains killed a dog in six minutes, 
the difficulty of breathing being the prominent symptom. A third of a 
grain caused death iu four and a half hours by tetanus. Iu both eases 
the blood in the heart was black, and the lungs gorged. Given internally, 


thirty-six grains killed a dog in thirty-six hours, no particular symptom 
being noted, but the after-death appearance of the stomach betokened a 
corrosive action, parts presenting an appearance similar to the eschars 
produced by the action of the caustic silver on the skin. Nitrate of silver 
must, therefore, be regarded as an irritant and corrosive poison. 

The blueness of the skin produced by the action of nitrate of silver, 
proves it to be freely absorbed. This color is due to the reduction of the 
metal, and its deposition on the surface of the true skin. For this action 
to take place, the drug must be taken for a very considerable time. It is 
given medicinally in chronic gastric affeetious and in some nervous affec- 
tions (epilepsy, etc.) in doses varying from a quarter to half a grain. 

But, although no discoloration of the body may be apparent, the absorp- 
tion of the poison is manifest, even when but one dose has been taken, for 
Orfila has found it under such circumstances in the liver, spleen, urine, 
etc., whilst Panizza and Kramer have found it in the blood. 

The treatment of poisoning with silver salts is obvious. Common salt 
or sal ammoniac in solution must be given freely. Vomiting must also be 
encouraged. White of egg should be administered. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

In slow poisoning the body will be found of a blue tint. When death 
is rapid from a large dose, a blue line will sometimes be found round the 
gums, the stomach and intestines being either intensely red and inflamed, 
or white from the action of the caustic nitrate, or black from the decom- 
position of animal matters. 


1. Mixed with carbonate of soda, and heated on charcoal with the 
blowpipe, a hard, white malleable metallic bead is produced, with no 
incrustation whatsoever. 

2. Sulphuretted hydrogen gives a black precipitate (Ag 2 S), insoluble in 
sulphide of ammonium, but soluble in warm nitric acid. 

3. The caustic alkalies give a brown precipitate (AgHO), soluble in ex- 
cess of ammonia, but not in potash or soda. 

4. Hydrochloric acid and any T soluble chloride give a white precipitate 
(AgCI |, which turns slate-colored after exposure to the light, soluble in 
ammonia, in hyposulphite of soda, and in cyanide of potassium, but in- 
soluble in boiling nitric acid. The chloride, when heated, becomes a 
horny mass. 

(Note. — There are three insoluble chlorides — 

(a) Lead chloride (PbCl.,) — -not acted on by ammonia. 

(,i) Mercurous chloride ( HgCl) — turned black by ammonia. 

0") Silver chloride (AgCI) — dissolved by ammonia.) 

5. Iodide and bromide of potassium give yellow precipitates, which are 
not easily soluble in ammonia. 

Quantitative Analysis. 

Acidulate the solution of the silver with nitric acid, and precipitate 
with hydrochloric acid ; filter, wash, and dry the chloride. 

100 grains (AgCI) = 75.47 Ag. 

= 118.46 AgN0 3 . 



Toxicological Analysis. 

Boil the contents of the stomach with bicarbonate of potash and filter. 
Boil the residue on the filter-paper with nitrohydrochloric acid, and again 
filter. Mix the filtrates together, and evaporate them to dryness, so as to 
char the organic matter. Redissolve the residue in dilute nitric acid, and 
saturate with ammonia ; filter and precipitate the silver with hydrochloric 
acid in a solution again rendered acid with nitric acid. 

Cases of Poisoning with Nitrate of Silver. 

CASE 1.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 319. Female: set. 51. A mixture contain- 
ing fifty grains of nitrate of silver, taken in divided doses. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting of a brownish-yellow fluid. 

Result — Death in three days. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and intestines inflamed; silver found in stomach and liver. 

CASE 2.— "British Medical Journal," May 20th, 1871, p. 527 (Mr. Scatteruood). ML 15 months. A 
stick of nitrate of silver, three-quarters of an inch long, slipped down the throat. 

Symptoms. — Immediate vomiting; (common salt was administered); convulsions. Death in vio- 
lent convulsions in sis hours. 

Result. — Death in six hours. 

Post-mortem in Ttcenty-jive Hours. — Two or three patches of corrosion in the cesophagus ; mucous 
membrane of stomach pale, except one patch of corrosion of a brilliant white color (AgCl); duo- 
denum and part of jejunum similarly corroded; heart empty and contracted. 

CASE 3. — "Medecine Legale (Devergiej," vol. iii (M. Pommarede). Male: ret. 21. One ounce. 

Symptoms. — Insensibility ; convulsive movements of upper limbs; of the face; forcible closure of the 
jaw; dilatation and insensibility of the pupil; improved under treatment, but afterwards had a 
relapse ; ultimately recovered. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 4.— "British Medical Journal," May 27th, 1871, p. 552 (Mr. Hart). JEt. 4. A piece of stick 
caustic slipped down the throat. 

Symptoms. — Immediate vomiting induced (milk treaament alone adopted). 

Result. — Recovery. 

THALLIUM (Tl = 204. Sp. Gr. 11.85). 

The detection of a splendid green line in the spectrum, led to the dis- 
covery of thallium by Crookes in 1861. The salts are said to be very poi- 
sonous, but before anything can be definitely stated as to their physiologi- 
cal action, we need far more numerous and more accurate experiments than 
are as yet recorded. From the circumstance that the salts are perfectly 
tasteless, and very soluble in water, some more information than we at 
present possess is much to be desired. 15.5 grains of the carbonate killed 
a rabbit in a few hours (Paulet); 75 grains of the sulphate killed two 
hens, six ducks, two puppies, and a middle-sized dog; 1.5 grain killed a 
puppy in forty hours (M. Lamy). The symptoms described are intense 
dyspnoea, abdominal pains, salivation, convulsions, and specially paralysis. 
Nothing is said about vomiting or purging, and no marked post-mortem 
appearances are recorded. 

Mr. Crookes's experience, however, seems completely different to what 
has been observed by these investigators. He states that he has himself 
swallowed one or two grains of thallium salt without auv effect, nor has 
the vapor (to which he has been so much exposed ) proved injurious. Thal- 
lium is said to stain the hair, and to render the skin hard and yellow. 
(For experiments on thallium poisoning, by M. Lamy, see "British Medi- 
cal Journal," September 26th, 1863, p. 352.) 

The detection of the peculiar green band by the spectroscope, at once 
supplies us with a test for its presence of extreme delicacy. 


TIX (Sn = 118). Sp. Gr. 7.30 ; melts at 228° C. 

Tin is chiefly found in Cornwall as tin-stone (SnO,,). It is a soft, mal- 
leable, silver-white metal, and is largely used for coating sheet-iron (tin- 
plate), as well as in various alloys, such as bronze, bell-metal, pewter, 
solder, etc. The metal itself is not a poison. 

The chlorides are the only compounds of interest medico-legally. Under 
the name of " Dyers' spirit," they are largely used in calico-printing; 
whilst what is called "Tin prepare liquor," is a stannate of sodium (Na a 
Su0 3 , 4H,0). The oxide of tin constitutes oue ingredient of putty pow- 
der, which is used for polishing silver-plate, and for giving white opacity 
to enamels. 

Stannous Oxide SnO = 134. 

Stannic Oxide, SnO, = 150. 

Stannous Sulphide (brown), .... SnS = 150. 

Stannic Sulphide (yellow) (mosaic gold) (bronz-1 a c _ iqo 
ing powder),. . . . . . . j 2 

Stannous Chloride, ...... SnCl 2 = 189. 

Stannic Chloride (spirit of Libavius), . . = 260. 

Experiments on Animals. 

The chlorides of tin are decomposed by nearly all animal fluids and 
vegetable infusions. They are active poisons. According to Orfila's ex- 
periments, from eighteen to twenty-four grains given internally to dogs, 
killed them in one, two, and three days, the symptoms produced being 
violent vomiting, and great general depression. Applied to a wound, he 
found that two drachms caused sloughing of the part, and death in twelve 
days. But the action of the chloride is far more energetic when injected 
into the veins, six grains killing a dog in one minute. Two grains thus 
administered killed a dog in fifteen minutes (tetanus being a prominent 
symptom i, and 0.5 grain in twelve hours, a curious cataleptic condition 
being induced. The poison was discovered in each case after death in the 
liver, spleen, and uriue. The morbid appearances were those of an irritant 
poison. Orfila refers to a peculiar tanned appearance of the villous coat 
in the stomachs of the dogs. 

The tin salts act as irritant poisons in the human subject. In the treat- 
ment of poisoning cases a solution of carbonate of ammonia is indicated, 
together with large quantities of milk and white of egg. Vomiting must 
be encouraged by emetics, and the stomach-pump used, if necessary, with 
great care, and only if the case be seen very soon. 

(A) Stannous Salts (e. g., Stannous Chloride. SnCl 2 ). 

1. Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives a brown precipitate (SnS). Collect the 
precipitate, and, whilst moist, add yellow sulphide of ammonium, when it 
will be converted into a persulphide (SnS 2 ). If an acid be added to this, 
a yellow precipitate falls. 

2. Solutions of Fixed Alkalies give a white precipitate (Sn2HO), soluble 
in excess. If the solution be boiled, some of the tin is reprecipitated as 
stannous oxide (black), (SnO). 

3. Corrosive Sublimate gives a gray precipitate consisting of mercury, in 
a state of fine subdivision. 

4. Chloride of Gold gives a purple precipitate (purple of Cassius). 


(B) Stannic Salts (e. g., Stannic Chloride. SnCl 4 ). 

1. Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives a yellow precipitate (SnS,), soluble in 
ammonia, and in sulphide of ammonium, and precipitated therefrom, on 
the addition of an acid. 

2. Solutions of the Fixed Alkalies give a white precipitate of stannic 
acid (HjSnOj) soluble in excess of the alkali, but not reprecipitated on 
boiling, as happens with stannous salts. 

When tin compounds are heated by the blowpipe on charcoal with car- 
bonate of soda, a white metallic globule is formed, which will be found to 
be malleable and soluble in hydrochloric acid, to which solution the vari- 
ous tests may be applied. Analysis. 

With organic liquids and tissues all that is usually necessary is to boil 
them for some time in water acidulated with hydrochloric acid, then to 
filter, and to test the filtrate. 

. Cases of Poisoning by Chloride of Tin. 

CASE 1. — Orfila, "Toxicologie G6nerale," 1843, ii, 5; Cbristison, p. 489. Given to several persona 
by the cook using it by mistake instead of salt. 
Symptoms. — None vomited; colicky pains and diarrhoea. 
Result. — All recovered. 

CASE 2.—" Medical Times," October 9th, 1841. 5ss. of solution of chloride. 
Symptoms. — Vomiting; pain. Delirium on the third day. 
Result. — Death on third day. 

TITANIUM (Ti = 50). 

Has no action, so far as experiments have as yet been made, on animal 


So far as we know, tungsten is perfectly inert. One of the authors has 
given one ounce of tuugstate of ammonia to a dog, but no effects were 

URANIUM (U = 120). Sp. gr. 18.4. 

This is a steel-white metal. The uranium compounds are chiefly used 
for glass staining, the uranous oxide giving a black, and the uranic oxide 
a fine yellow to glass. It is also used in photography. 

Vomiting is induced when a dose of from fifteen to sixty grains of the 
chloride is given to a dog, but nothing more. Three grains of the chloride 
injected into a vein proves instantly fatal. (Gmelin.) 

ZINC (Zn = 65). Sp. gr. 7.0. 

Zinc is never met with in an uucombiuated state in the inorganic world; 
whilst it does not exist at all, so far as we know, in the organic. It is 
found both in the form of a sulphide (ZnS, blende), and carbonate (ZnC0 3 , 
calamine). Zinc is a bluish-white metal, very brittle, and breaks with a 
crystalline fracture. At 100° C. it is, to a certain extent, both malleable 
and ductile. 

In moist air it rapidly tarnishes, a thin film of oxide being formed. It 
quickly dissolves in dilute hydrochloric and sulphuric acids, and also in a 
hot caustic potash solution, hydrogen being set free. Nitric acid acts on 
it powerfully, but the acid itself is decomposed. It boils at 1040° O, and 


at this temperature gives off a vapor, which burns with a bluish-white 
flame, depositing zinc oxide. The inhalation of zinc fumes are said to 
have produced injurious results. ("Chemical Gazette," viii, p. 362; and 
Christisou, p. 502.) It is thought by some that the evil effects produced 
in copper workshops on melting days is due to the zinc mixed with the 
copper (bronze), rather than to the action of the copper. Zinc is not itself 
a poison, but all its salts are, although nothing like so energetic in their 
action as those of lead and copper. 

Zinc is largely used for roofing houses. Sheet-iron, dipped into a bath 
of melted zinc, is commonly known as galvanized iron. Brass is an alloy 
of zinc with copper ; German silver consists of brass whitened with nickel. 

All the salts of zinc are colorless ; and most of them are readily soluble 
in water. The oxide is closely allied to magnesia in its combinations. 

The useof zinc for cooking uteusils is not altogether without danger ; 
nor, considering the extreme brittleuess of the metal, is it to be recom- 
mended for the purpose. Water, if it contains either a free acid, or fatty 
matters, or a quantity of salt, has a slightly solutive action on zinc. 

Zinc Oxide, . . . ZuO = 81. 

Zinc Carbonate (Calamine), ZnC0 3 = 125. 

Zinc Chloride, . . . ZnCl 2 = 136. 

Zinc Sulphide'(Blende), . ZuS = 97. 

Zinc Sulphate, . . . ZnS0 4 , 7H 2 = 161 + 126. 

Zinc Acetate, . . . Zn(C 2 H 3 2 ) 2 2H a O = 183 + 36. 

Zinc Oxide (ZnO = 81.) 

This is formed when zinc is burnt in air. The hydrated oxide (ZnOH 2 0) 
is precipitated by the addition of caustic soda or potash from solutious of 
its salts. Oxide of zinc is used occasionally under the name of "Zinc 
White," as a paint, in the place of white lead, its advantage being that it 
is not blackened by sulphuretted hydrogen. 

Carbonate of Zinc — Calamine (ZnC0 3 = 125). 

When soluble carbonates are added to a zinc solution, the precipitate 
formed is a mixture of the carbonate and oxide. It is soluble in carbo- 
nate of ammonia, but not in the carbonates of potash or soda. 

Chloride of Zinc (ZuCl 2 = 136). 

This salt is soluble in water, alcohol, and ether. It is used by plumbers 
in soldering as a flux. Further, it possesses powerful antiseptic and de- 
odorizing properties. The strong aqueous solution constitutes what is 
known as " Sir William Burnett's Disinfecting Fluid." The strength of 
this liquid varies from 205 to 230 grains of the salt per ounce. 

It is, moreover, a powerful corrosive poison. Several cases are recorded 
where it has been swallowed accidentally, and with a fatal result. Ap- 
plied externally, it is found to act as a powerful escharotic. 

The chloride of zinc differs in its action from all other zinc salts by its 
rapidly coagulating action on liquid albumen, and on the delicate tissues 
of the body. Its action on the living body is twofold : (1st) It is a caustic 
and an irritant, producing pain, and instant vomiting; and (2dly), it ex- 
erts a specific action on the motor or organic system of nerves ; for after 
the poison has been taken, the pulse and breathing are accelerated, the 
voluntary muscles become paralyzed, the pupils dilate, coma supervenes, 
and death occurs without a struggle. The poison may be found in the 


tissues, urine, and blood. The heart is usually found fully distended, and 
the blood black and uncoagulated. (Dr. Letheby.) 

Sulphide of Zinc (ZnS = 97). 

The native sulphide is known as Blende. Sulphide of ammonium throws 
down from zinc solutions the hydrated sulphide (ZnS, H 2 0). 

Sulphate of Zinc (ZnS0 4 + 7HX) = 161 + 126). 
(White Vitriol, White Copperas.) 

Sulphate of zinc is a white crystalline salt, and effloresces in dry air. It 
is soluble in two and a half parts of cold, and in less than its own weight 
of boiling water. It is decomposed by albumen and milk, the animal 
matters forming insoluble compounds with it. It has more than once been 
taken by mistake for sulphate of magnesia. At 100° C. it gives up six of 
water, and at 210° C. it gives up all its water of crystallization. If ex- 
posed to a bright red heat, a mere residue of oxide of zinc is left. 

In small doses (gr. j — vj) it acts as a nervine tonic, and is useful in 
chorea, epilepsy, etc. A much larger dose can be borne after a patient 
has taken it for some time. It is also used as an astringent in chronic 
discharges from mucous membranes. In large doses (gr. x — gr. xxx) it is 
given as an emetic, its action not being accompanied with very much gen- 
eral depression. In ordinary cases of poisoning twenty grains of the sul- 
phate may be safely given, for the purpose of producing vomiting. 

Acetate of Zinc (Zn(C 2 H 3 0,) 2 2H :! = 183 + 36). 

This salt is formed by dissolving carbonate of zinc in acetic acid. It is 
soluble in water, and is given as a tonic in 1 gr. doses, and as an emetic 
in 15 gr. doses. 

Symptoms of Zinc Poisoning, Dose, etc. 

In the act of swallowing the peculiar and disagreeably metallic taste of 
the poison will be complained of. The immediate vomiting of matters 
containing more or less blood, the severe abdominal pain, accompanied 
with purging, and the burning pain in the gullet, are the prominent symp- 
toms of poisoning with the zinc salts. The pulse is generally very* feeble, 
the body very cold, the countenance very anxious, but the intellect clear. 
On one occasion no vomiting seems to have been produced. 

After chloride of zinc has been swallowed, the several membranes with 
which it comes into contact, owing to its terribly corrosive action, will be 
found destroyed, froth will probably issue from the mouth, and the patient 
lose both voice and sight. Its action, too, on the nervous system is gener- 
ally very considerable. The patient may, moreover, apparently recover 
from the primary symptoms; but they often again recur, or induce death 
by secondary causes, such as stricture of the gullet, or pylorus, or by the 
chemical action of the poison on the lining membrane of the stomach. 

As regards the time of death, it is to be remarked that this specially 
depends on whether vomiting and purging are early or late symptoms. 
One ounce of the sulphate, or 100 grains of the chloride, may be regarded 
as a poisonous dose. Great tolerance of zinc compounds, howe%'er, is 
brought about by use. Thus we read of two scruples of the acetate being 
given three times a day in a case of epilepsy. 



The treatment of zinc poisoning is similar to that recommended in cases 
of poisoning by copper. In cases where chloride of zinc has been taken, 
carbonate of soda, with milk, white of egg, tea, and decoction of bark, are 
indicated. Opium may be given to relieve pain. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

When the sulphate has been taken, inflammation of the intestinal tract 
is uniformly found. The brain and lungs are generally congested. 

With the chloride the post-mortem appearances, reported by Dr. 
Letheby, are a peculiar whiteness and opacity of the mucous membrane 
of the mouth and oesophagus, and a hard, leathery state of the stomach, 
which is generally corrugated, contracted, opaque, and of a dark-leaden 
color, all parts having a very acid reaction. The lungs and kidneys are 
usually congested. The fluid in the stomach often has the appearance of 
curds and whey. In one case two perforations in the stomach were found. 

Fatty changes in the various viscera have been more than once re- 

Experiments on Animals. 

Orfila found that dogs recovered after taking as much as seven or eight 
drachms of the acetate, if the poison was not artificially retained in the 
stomach ; but that death generally occurred in about three days, if the 
gullet was tied, the inflammation in the stomach after death being well 
marked. Injected into the veins, forty-eight grains caused instant death ;. 
whilst with even twenty-four grains, death occurred in three minutes. 
Orfila found the poison afterwards in the spleen, liver, and urine. Blade's 
experiments showed that some depression of the heart's action was pro- 
duced when even three grains was injected into the veins, whilst an arrest 
of the heart's action occurred in eight seconds when thirty grains was 
similarly injected. 

In Pyl's "Memoirs" a case is recorded, where the outward application of 
the sulphate of zinc to an eruption caused death in five hours, with vomit- 
ing, purging, and convulsions. 


1. Sulphuretted Hydrogen gives in neutral or alkaline solutions (but not 
in an acid solution) a white amorphous precipitate. Zinc is the only metal 
that gives a white precipitate with sulphuretted hydrogen. A similar pre- 
cipitate is produced with sulphide of ammonium. The precipitate thus 
formed is insoluble in caustic alkalies, or in acetic acid, but is soluble in 
the mineral acids, even when very dilute. The precipitation of the metal 
is aided by a slight heat. 

2. Caustic Alkalies give a white precipitate (ZnHX) 2 ), soluble in excess 
of the alkalies, and in free acids. 

3. Alkaline Carbonates give a white precipitate, insoluble either in excess 
of the carbonates, or in the fixed alkalies, but soluble in all ammonia 

4. The separation of zinc from its solutions can be effected by placing 
the solution in a platinum capsule, and touching the platinum through the 
liquid with a piece of magnesium, when the metal will be deposited on the 

5. Zinc salts, when heated on platinum-foil, leave a fixed infusible resi- 
due, which, when hot, is yellow, and, when cold, is white. If the residue 


be warmed, with nitrate of cobalt, and afterwards heated with the blow- 
pipe, the mass assumes a brilliant green color. 

6. Ziuc salts, heated with carbonate <.f soda in the reducing flame of the 
blowpipe, deposit an incrustation similar to the above, that is, yellow when 
hot, and white when cold. 

7. of Potassium gives a white amorphous precipitate, in- 
soluble in mineral acids, but soluble in fixed caustic alkalies. 

8. Ferricyanide of Potassium gives a reddish-brown precipitate, insoluble 
in mineral acids, but soluble in caustic alkalies. 

9. Oxalic Acid gives a white crystalline precipitate, very soluble in the 
mineral acids. 

Note. — That nearly all the tests give white precipitates. 

Quantitative Estimation. 

Zinc is usually estimated quantitatively as an oxide. The solution must 
be boiled, treated with carbonate of soda until a precipitate ceases to be 
produced, again boiled, filtered, and the precipitate washed, dried, and 

100 grs. ZnO = 354.13 ZnS0 4 , 7H 2 0. 
" =167.77 ZnCl 2 . 
" = 270.37 Acetate of Zinc. 

Toxicological Analysis. 

In examining the stomach and its contents, in a case of suspected poison- 
ing, it should always be remembered that zinc may have been given to 
a patient as an emetic, and hence, although found iu the stomach after 
death, not be the cause of death. If found, it should never deter us from 
seeking for other poisons. 

Boil the contents of the stomach, or any organic liquid, with acetic 
acid. This will dissolve any zinc oxides existing in combination with ani- 
mal matters. Filter the liquid, and pass sulphuretted hydrogen through 
the filtrate. Collect the precipitate, wash and dry. Act upon this with 
strong nitric acid, and dilute sufficiently with water. The solution may 
then be neutralized with carbonate of ammonia, and tested accordingly. 

The presence of iron as a peroxide somewhat interferes with the reac- 
tions. The iron can be precipitated by first adding an excess of ammonia, 
and filtering the zinc remaining in solution. The filtrate must be evapo- 
rated to dryness, and a drop of acetic acid having been added to the 
residue, the zinc may then be dissolved in water and tested. 

The solid matters must be incinerated, and the ash tested accordingly. 

Cases nf Poismiing with the Salts of Zinc. 


CASE 1.— "Lancet," September 3d, 1864, p. 267 (Mr. Crossing). Female: xt. 63. Siss of Sir Wil- 
liam Burnett's solution. 

Symptoms. — Instant pain and vomiting, and afterwards purging. In one and a half hours the voice 
was gone, and she became giddy. In a few hours she had convulsions, with twitchiugs of the facial 
muscles; collapse, and death in fourteen hours. 

Result. — Death in fourteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Body was preserved unusually well ; raucous membrane of lips and tongue abraded, 
and that of the oesophagus and stomach entirely destroyed. No ulceration or perforation ; duode- 
num and intestines congested ; heart normal, left side gorged with blood ; lungs congested. 

CASE 2.— "Lancet," January 9th, 1864, p. 35 (Dr. Wardell). Female: at. 21. Three-quarters of a 
wineglassful of Burnett's disinfecting fluid = 150 grains of ZuCl a . 


Symptoms. — Violent and Immediate vomiting, with great pain in stomach; pupils small; great 
prostration, hut no paralysis of the upper or lower extremities. 

Result,— Death in forty-one hours. 

CASE 3.— "Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," October, 1848 (Dr. Stratton). Female: 
adult. Xij of a solution = 12 grains. 

Sj/wkptamt.-— Pain ; vomiting. 

Result. — Rec< > ? ery . 

CASK 4.— "Lancet," September 12th, 1857, p. 271 (Dr. Rose). Male: at 21. One-half pint of Sir 
William Burnett's disinfecting solution. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Hands clenched; mucous membrane of stomach deep purple, partially corroded and 
destroyed; pyloric orifice constricted; duodenum much congested; right lung much congested; 
ventricles of heart tilled with dark coa^ula; brain and membranes congested. 

CASH 5.— " Lancet," January 12th, 1861, p. 29 (Dr. H.G.Wright). Female: at. 7. siss. of Sir Wil- 
liam Burnett's solution taken on an empty stomach. 

ftympfom*. — Symptoms Immediate. She got better under treatment, and remained so for ten daysi 
when, without any apparent cause, vomiting of blood took place. From this time she became very 
ill. but recovered after a long illness. {.Baths of milk were used.) 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 6.— "Lancet," January 12th, 1861, p. 30 (Dr. H.Wright). Female: at. 13. Sir William Bur- 
nett's fluid drank by mistake. 

Symptoms. — She rallied for two days, after which hamatemesis occurred and violent sickness. She 
got neuter for a time, but died after a short period. There were no nervous symptoms. 

Result. — Death after a few days. 

CASE 7.—" Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," October, 1848, p. 335. Male : adult. Dose 200 

Symptoms.— Burning pain ; vomiting. 

Result. — Recovery in sixteen days. 

CASE 8.—" Lancet," August 20th, 18-53, p. 159 (Dr. R. HasselD. Male. 3iij of Burnett's fluid. 

Symptoms. — Incessant vomiting; purging set in on the third day; no corrosive action; nervous 
symptoms, indicated by perversion of taste and smell, set in. 

Result. — Recovery in three months. 

CASE 9.— "Medical Times and Gazette," June 11th, 1859, p. 595 (Dr. Markham). Female: at. 46. 
100 grains = half a wineglassful of solution. 

fijpmp/onw. — Vomiting and pain; apparently got well, but in three weeks the vomiting returned, 
accompanied with exhaustion. 

Result. — Death in ten weeks. 

Postmortem. —Stomach very constricted at intestinal end, so as only to admit a crowquill. 

CASE 10.— "Lancet," July 6th, 1850, p. 23 (Dr. Letheby). Female: at. fifteen months. Sir Wil- 
liam Burnett's fluid. 

Symptoms. — Extreme prostration, and died comatose. Occasional vomiting of a frothy fluid. 

Result. — Death in ten hours. 

Post-mortem — Lining membrane of the mouth and throat white and opaque ; stomach hard and 
leathery, the inner surface dark-colored ; lungs and kidneys congested. 

CASE 11.— "American Journal of Medical Scieuce," January, I860, p. 190. Female: set. 40. A 
quantity of disinfecting fluid taken for gin. 

Symptoms. — Vomited in ten minutes. Stomach became so irritable that food could not be retained. 

Result. — Death in fourteen weeks. 

CASE 12.— "British Medical Journal," September 5th, 1874, p. 297 (Dr. Tuckwell). Female: at. 21. 
A quantity 'about fourounces). 

Symptoms. — Xo injury to lips or to mucous membrane of the mouth ; immediate pain and vomit- 
ing. For fifty-seven days life was supported by injections. The body was full of petechial spots. 

Result. — Death in one hundred and sixteen days. 

Post-mortem.— Body much emaciated; fatty ehanges had taken place in various organs. Intestines 
very congested. 

CASE 13.— "Lancet," September 6th, 1854, p. 259 (Dr. Thorn . Male: at 20 months. A teaspoon- 
fnl of Crewe's disinfecting fluid. 

Symptoms. — Great pain, purging, and vomiting. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASK 14.— "Medical Times and Gazette," October 11th, 1851, p. 382 (Mr. Milton). Male: adult. 
Burnett's fluid taken for gin. Drank a glass without noticing the mistake. 

Symptoms. — Pains and vomiting soon set in ; could scarcely move because of the agony it 'caused. 
He recovered after a week, but had a relapse, from which he recovered after three weeks. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 15— "Medical Times and Gazette," November 8th, 1851, p. 497 (Dr. T. Ogier Ward). Female: 
ai-t. 4". About a mouthful, swallowed by mistake for vinegar. 

Symp/oms. — Burning pain ; giddiness; loss of sight ; purging and vomiting; collapse ; loss of sen- 
sibility and loss of voice. Recovery after five weeks. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 16.— "Medical Times and Gazette," July 19th, 1856, p. 59 (Dr. F. C. Webb). Male. 3j of 
Burnett's fluid by mistake, taken after a full meal. 

Symptoms. — Great pain; constant vomiting ; marked prostration; no signs of corrosion in either 
mouth or fauces. (Emetic administered very soon.) Recovery after many weeks. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 17.—" Medical Times and Gazette," November 2Gth, 1859, p. 525 (Dr. Habershon). Female : 
set. 37. Three-fourths of a wiueglassful of Burnett's fluid. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting iu a quarter of an hour, afterwards purging; no blood, and an entire ab- 
sence of pain. Three mouths afterwards pain set in, and eight days after this the patient died. 

Besult.— Death in three or four months. 

Post-mortem.— CEsophagus and stomach ulcerated ; perforation at the cardiac end; mucous mem- 
brane much destroyed. V, 

CASE 18.—" Medical Times and Gazette," October 18th, 1862, p. 404 (Dr. Cousins). Female. About 
5ij of Sir William Burnett's disinfecting fluid. 

Symptoms. — In ten minutes great pain, nausea, and constriction of the throat set in ; in five hours 
giddiness and loss of sight occurred ; afterwards collapse. Death. 

Result. — Death in seven and a half hours. 

CASE 19.— "Medical Times and Gazette," August 13th, 1864, p. 188. Female. Chloride of zinc 
(soldering fluid). 

Symptoms— Burning pain in throat and stomach. 

Result. — Recovery. 

See also the following Cases of Poisoning by Chloride of Zinc. 

"Medical Times and Gazette," June 6th, 1863, p. 591 (death). 
"Medical Times and Gazette," July 4th, 18G3, p. 25. 
"Pharmaceutical Journal," January, 1867, p. 420. 
" Lancet," 1864, vol. i, p. 35. 


CASE 20.—" Ann d'Hyg.," 1871, vol. ii, p. 341. Female : set. 60. Quantity ? administered in soup. 
Symptoms. — Those of irritant poisoning. 
Result. — Deaih in three days. 

Post-mortem. — Zinc found in spleen, liver, stomach, and intestines. 

CASE 21.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 316 (Dr. Mackintosh). Male: set. 20. 3j. 
Symptoms. — Early vomiting and purging. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 22. — "British and Foreign Medical and Chirurgical Review," April, 1849. Female: set. 25. 
5iss. taken for sulphate of magnesia. 
Symptoms. — Vomiting and purging immediate. 
Result. — Death in thirteen and a half hours. 

CASE 23. — "British and Foreign Medical and Chirurgical Review," April, 1849. Female: set. 35. 
Siss. taken for sulphate of magnesia. 

Symptoms. — No vomiting for fifteen minutes, or purging for half an hour. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 24. — "Chemical News," June 16th, 1865, p. 2S8 (Dr. Herapath). Slow poisoning by sulphates 
of zinc and iron. 

Symptoms. — Thirst, nausea, vomiting; heat in stomach and gullet. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach inflamed. 

CASE 25.— Ortila's "Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 573. Female. Sij by mistake. 

Symptoms.— Pain and vomiting. (Potash given in syrup.) 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 26. — Christison, p. 504. Child. Sulphate of zinc, used as wash to head. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting, purging, convulsions. 

Result. — Death in five hours. 

CASE 27.— "Medical Times and Gazette," September 6th, 1862, p. 252 (Mr. Marsh). Male: set. 52. 
About half an ounce of sulphate of zinc in solution. 

Symptoms. — Immediate pain and sickness. Seemed to be getting better during three days, when 
he had a relapse, and died. 

Result.— Death on the fifth day. 

Post-mortem.— All the tissues of abdomen loaded with fat ; duodenum and stomach inflamed ; heart 

CASE 28.—" Lancet," July 21st, 1855, p. 52 (Dr. Brennan). Male ; ret. 19. 3iv in water by mistake. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms immediate; vomiting, purging, couvulsious. (Magnesia administered.) 
Recovery in three days. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 20.—" Lancet," May 17th, 1856, p. MO (Dr. <»• D. Glbb). Female: ret. 22. Sixty-seven grains. 

.Sym/>u»us — Immediate bitter taste; great thirst and depression. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CAM: 30.— " Lancet," May 25th, 1S72. p. 717. Male: ret. 21. 5j of sulphate of zinc. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and purging in a few minutes; cramp; pain in region of bladder. 

Result. — Reco v e r y . 

See also the following Cases of Poisoning with Sulphate of Zinc. 

"Ann. d'Hyg.," vol. xxxvii, p. 320 (Tardieu and Roussin — Death). 
"Medical Times and Cazette," July 16th, 1S53, p. 78. 
"Lancet," August 27th, 1S50, p. 210 (Dr. Ogle). 



Sulphuric Acid — Preparation — Nuisances arising from Oil of Vitriol Factories 
— Impurities — Method of Purifying — Varieties of Acids — Specific Gravities of 
Acids of Various Strengths (table) — Properties — Its Action on Various Inor- 
ganic and Organic Bodies — Symptoms — Treatment — Post-mortem appearances 
— Tests — Methods of Distinguishing Free Acid from Acid in Combination — 
Toxicological Analysis — Acid Stains — Quantitative Estimation — List of Cases 
— Nitric Acid — Preparation — Varieties — Impurities — Method of Purifying — • 
Specific Gravities of Various Strengths (table) — Action on («) Vegetable and 
(jS) Animal Substances — Symptoms — Post-mortem Appearances — Quantitative 
Estimation — Toxicological Analysis — Stains on Clothing — List of Cases — 
Hydrochloric Acid — Preparation of the Gas — Properties — Action on Animal 
Life — Nuisances arising from the Escape of the Gas — Liquid Acid — Specific 
Gravities of Acids of Different Strengths (table) — Properties — Impurities — 
Preparation of Pure Acid — Symptoms — Tests — Quantitative Estimation — 
Toxicological Analysis — Acid Stains on Clothing — List of Cases — Hydrofluoric 
Acid — Preparation — Action and Tests — Nilrosulphuric Acid — Properties — Ac- 
tion on Organic Bodies — Tests — Nitrohydrochloric Acid — Properties and Tests 
— Sulphindigotic Acid. 

Sulphuric, Nitric, and Hydrochloric Acids. 

These acids are of very considerable importance medico-legally. Being 
common trade articles, they are accessible to all, and procurable by all, 
without suspicion. The cases of poisoning, however, by them in England 
have been almost, without exception, accidental or suicidal. In Berlin, 
according to Dr. Caspar (" Medical Times," Aug. 1851, p. 213), nine-tenths 
of the cases of poisoning are effected by common oil of vitriol. The min- 
eral acids, moreover, are not unfrequently employed by the mischievous 
and ill-disposed for throwing over dresses and clothes, and thus effecting 
their destruction. 

SULPHURIC ACID (H^O,, or H 2 0, SO,). 

(Dihydric Sulphate — Oil of Vitriol — Vitriol — Spirit or Essence of 



Sulphuric Acid is prepared — 

(1) By passing sulphurous acid gas (S0 2 ), vapors of nitric acid (HN0 3 ), 
steam (H 2 Oj, and air into a leaden chamber, so arranged as to allow their 


free and perfect admixture. A shallow layer of water covers the bottom 
of the chamber. 

The Sulphurous Acid is produced either by burning crude sulphur or 
pyrites (which coutaius from 30 to 35 per cent, of sulphur), or the 
spent oxide from gas-works (which usually contains 40 to 60 per 
cent, of sulphur). 

The Nitric Acid is obtained from nitre (KN0 3 ) by the addition of 
sulphuric acid (H. 2 S0 4 ). 

The Steam (H 2 0) is derived from a special water-boiler. 

The Air in due quantity is obtained by providing a constant draught 
through the leaden chamber. 

The following are the reactions that occur: 

(a) The S0 2 becomes oxidized at the expense of the oxygen of the 
nitric acid, which is by this means reduced to nitric oxide (NO). 

3(S0 2 ) + 2(HN0 3 ) + 2(H 2 0) = 3(H 2 S0 4 ) + 2(NO). 

(/J) The NO thus formed instantly combines with the oxygen of the 
air, and nitric peroxide is formed (N 2 4 ). 

2(NO) + 2 = N 2 4 . 

(r) The S0 2 is now oxidized at the expense of the N 2 4 . 

S0 2 + H 2 + N0 2 = NO + H 2 S0 4 . 

Nitrogen and nitric oxide only escape by the flue. 

The dilute acid (chamber acid) which is formed at the bottom of the 
chamber, is drawn off, and duly concentrated. 

(2) Sulphuric acid is also prepared by the distillation of dried sulphate 
of iron (FeS0 4 ). This process is adopted at Nordhausen. Ferric oxide, 
which is a red powder, and known as colcothar (Fe,0 3 ) is left in the retort. 

4FeS0 4 + H 2 = H 2 0, 2SO, + 2Fe 2 3 + 2S0 2 . 

Nuisances arising from Oil of Vitriol Factories. 

And here we may note that nuisances arising from oil of vitriol factories 
are frequently a cause of nuisance, and form a subject of litigation. It 
will be seen that a free current of air through the leaden chamber is nec- 
essary for carrying on the process of manufacture; and as this current 
escapes at the exit pipe, it is not unlikely to carry with it various injurious 
gases. As a rule in practice, 100 parts of sulphur produce 200 to 294 
parts of sulphuric acid (H 2 S0 4 ). Theoretically, 100 parts should produce 
306.25 parts of the acid. The nitre also employed at the works ought not 
to exceed 2 parts by weight for every 100 parts of sulphur; but, in reality, 
it is rarely less than 4 parts, and ranges from this to 12 parts, or more. 
Where the spent oxide is employed as a source of sulphurous acid, the 
amount of nitre used is rarely less than 7 per cent. If, then, we find any 
large disproportion between the materials used and the acid obtained, there 
is strong evidence that a considerable escape of gaseous bodies must be 
going on. This escape may be still more accurately estimated by direct 
experiment, as by abstracting the gases from the flues connecting the cham- 
ber with the general shaft. Dr. Roscoe states that in well-managed works 
the sulphur present should not exceed one grain per cubic foot. The air 
of the chimney-shaft, according to Dr. Letheby, should not contain more 
than 0.25 grain of sulphur per cubic foot, one-half of this amount being 
probably derived from the coal or coke used in the furnaces. The follow- 


ing are the main points to be observed iu tbe inspection of oil of vitriol 
factories : 

1 1 ) That the sulphur furnaces are burning properly — no fumes escaping 

| 'J | That the leaden chamber and flues are perfectly souud and air- 

i^ol That the gases in the flues leading from the leaden chamber do not 
contain more than one grain of sulphur per cubic foot. 

(4 i That previously to the gases from the leaden chamber passing into 
the chimney-shaft, they are first passed through a water-scrubber (_to take 
up sulphurous acid); then through a sulphuric acid scrubber (to absorb 
the oxides of nitrogen) ; and lastly, through a lime purifier. 

(5) That the process adopted in the concentration of the acid is simi- 
larly conducted, in order to prevent the escape of offensive gases. 


The impurities and means of purifying sulphuric acid are important, 
and must be considered in some detail, as they often become subjects of 
question in law courts. 

(1) Compounds of Oxygen and Nitrogen, derived from the nitric acid 
used in the manufacture. 

These nitrogen compounds may be known in the acid — 

(a) By its turning sulphate of iron an olive-green or black color, the 
depth of color varying according to the amounc of the oxides 
present. To make the experiment, take a drachm of the acid, 
mix it with a few drops of water, and allow the'mixture to cool. 
Add to this, carefully, about half a drachm of a saturated solu- 
tion of green sulphate of iron, so that the solution may float 
on the acid. Note if any change of color occurs at the spot 
where the two solutions meet, which will be at once produced 
if nitrogen compounds are present in the acid. 

( ( 3) By the acid bleaching a few drops of a dilute solution of indigo. 

(•/■) By its turning a red tint when mixed with a little brucia, the 
acid having been first diluted with its own bulk of water. 
An acid that contains a very large quantity of nitrogen compounds is 
not well suited for generating sulphuretted or arseuiuretted hydrogen. 

(2) Sulphurous Acid. 

(a) This is a frequent impurity of the acid, and renders it unfit for 
use iu testing for metals by Marsh's process. If such an acid 
be used for generating hydrogen, the gas set free, although per- 
fectly free from arsenic, is likely to baffle the skill of the 
unwary by blackening a solution of nitrate of silver when 
passed through it, and by depositing a yellow ring when heat 
is applied as the gas traverses a glass tube. These reactions 
are due to the development of sulphuretted hydrogen, the sul- 
phurous acid being decomposed when present where hydrogen 
is being liberated. This test, however, enables us to discover 
the impurity. Or, again — 

(,5) Mix two drachms of the acid with a few drops of water; add to 
this a drachm of an acid solution of protochloride of tin, and 
immediately cover the mixture over with a piece of paper 
moistened at one spot with a solution of acetate of lead. If 
the paper be darkened, it is a proof of the presence of sulphur- 
ous acid in the original liquid. 



(3) Arsenic, derived from the pyrites used in the manufacture. Dr. 
Letheby has found as much as 10 per cent, of metallic arsenic in some 
Cornish specimens of pyrites. The quantity of arsenic present in the 
acid varies greatly. Mr. Scanlan has procured 1.5 grains of the sulphide 
from 1000 grains of the acid ; Dr. Rees, 22 grains from one pint ; Mr. 
Watts, 30 grains from one pint; and Hellman, 0.7 grain from one ounce. 
Arsenic, of course, is not present when the acid is prepared from native 
sulphur. Dupasquier states that the arsenic always exists in oil of vitriol 
in the form of arsenic acid (?). 

To detect Arsenic in Sulphuric Acid. 

(a) Neutralize the acid with carbonate of potash. Add to the mix- 
ture a little pure hydrochloric acid, and pass sulphuretted 
hydrogen through the solution. The yellow sulphide formed, 
if arsenic be present, is soluble in ammonia. 

Fig. 23. 

(/3) Mix three or four drachms of the acid with two or three drops 
of nitric acid, and heat. Dilute with water to a specific gravity 
of 1100. Pour this dilute acid into a flask containing a little 
pure granulated zinc, and pass the gas generated through a 
solution of nitrate of silver (Fig. 23). If this be blackened, 
it maybe due either to the presence of arsenic or of sulphurous 
acid. Now make the tube hot. If it be due to Arsenic, the 
sublimate produced will be a bright steel-looking ring, but if 
to sulphurous acid, there will be merely a deposit of yellowish- 
white sulphur formed. 

(4) Lead, derived from the leaden chambers. Commercial sulphuric 
acid is said to contain from 0.1 to 0.15 per cent. (Dr. Ure.) Dr. Letheby 
states that he has not found usually more than from 0.03 to 0.08 per 

To detect its presence, mix the acid with about ten or twelve times its 
bulk of water, aud note whether the mixture becomes milky or turbid. 
If so, it is due to the precipitation of sulphate of lead, which, although 
soluble in the strong acid, is insoluble in dilute. 

(a) Collect the precipitate formed on a filter, diffuse in water, and 
pass sulphuretted hydrogen through the water, when, if it be 
lead, the white precipitate will be turned black. Or 
(/3) If the precipitate be mixed with twice its bulk of carbonate of 
soda, and heated on a piece of charcoal with the blowpipe, the 
lead will be reduced. 


(f) The best plan is to boil the precipitate for an hour in a saturated 
solution of earbouate of soda; filter; dissolve any undissolved 
residue in a little acetic acid. Divide iuto two parts, A and B. 

Test (A) with iodide of potassium — which gives a yellow precipitate 

with lead. 
Test (B i with sulphuretted hydrogen — which gives a black precipitate 

with lead. 

(5) Saline Impurities. — Alkaline sulphates are often present in quanti- 
ties varying from 0.4 to 0.6 per cent. (Dr. Ure.) These may be esti- 
mated by weighing the saline residue after the evaporation of a given 
quantity of the acid. Such impurities may be derived — -first, from the 
nitre used in the manufacture of the acid ; and, secondly, they may be 
purposely added to increase its gravity, and so lead to the belief that the 
acid is more concentrated than it really is. One part of sulphate of pot- 
ash added to one hundred of the acid increases its density as much as six 
parts in a thousand. 

(6) Carbonaceous Matter. — This is easily recognized by the color it im- 
parts to the acid. It is generally due to the accidental admixture of the 
acid with pieces of straw, etc. 

(7) Selenious Acid is said to be sometimes present; and, from the fact 
that selenium is not an uncommon constituent of iron pyrites, it is not 
improbable that it may be. Seleniuretted hydrogen is easily known — (1) 
by its intolerable odor ; and (2) that when burnt it has a smell of putrid 

Method of Purifying Sulphuric Acid. 

Dilute the crude oil of vitriol with about five times its bulk of water; 
pass sulphuretted hydrogen through the mixture for five or six hours; 
allow the solid impurities to subside, and siphon off the weak supernatant 
acid. Mix this with a teaspoonful of common salt, and distil in a capacious 
retort containing a few fragments of glass, and connected with a receiver 
by a tube about four feet long and one inch in diameter. The portion 
which first passes over is to be rejected, as it consists chiefly of water, with 
nitric, hydrochloric, and sulphurous acids, etc. 

Varieties of Acids. 

1. Anhydrous Sulphuric Acid (S0 3 ), which is obtained by decomposing 
sulphuric acid by anhydrous phosphoric acid, is a white solid. Its density 
is 1.9, and it boils a little above 50 D C. 

2. The sulphuric acids found in commerce contain variable proportions 
of this dry acid and water. 

(a) Xordhausen is the strongest acid known. It contains about 90 

per cent, of S0 3 . Sp. gr. 1900. 
(/?) Strongest English Acid. It contains about 81 or 82 per cent, of 

S0 3 . Sp. gr. about 1845. 
(j) Ordinary Sulphuric Acid of English commerce. It contains 

about 78 per cent, of S0 3 . Sp. gr. about 1843. 


Physical Properties. — The stronger acids have a syrupy appearance, and 
those that contain above 85 per cent, of real acid fume in the air. When 
pure, oil of vitriol has neither color nor smell. The specific gravity de- 
pends upon its strength, good commercial samples having a gravity vary- 



ing from 1836 to 1845. But so hygroscopic is the acid, that its exposure 
to the air for even a few minutes will materially alter its strength and 
specific gravity. The following table shows the streugths of acids of dif- 
ferent gravities : 

Table showing the percentage Quantities of Sulphuric Anhydride l S0 3 ) and 
Sulphuric Acid (H 2 SO,) in Specimens of Acids of different specific gravi- 
ties (Attfield). 

Specific Gravity. 

SOj = 80. 

H,SO« = 98. 

Specific Gravity. 

SO, = 80. 

ff,SO, = 98. 




1 3884 












1 3697 



1 8439 



1 3612 





96.8 B.P. 











77 46 





1 8336 

76 65 








1 3165 






1 3080 









1 8115 

73 39 





1 8043 

72 57 


1 2826 












1 .2654 

29 35 























1 2334 

26 09 









66 05 



24 46 



65 23 


1 2108 




64 42 



22 83 
























19 57 





1 1626 










58 71 












57 08 















13 86 


1 5648 






















11 14B.P. 


















8 97 









48 11 









6 52 


















4 08 


1 4265 









1 0206 









1 3977 








Questions bearing on the bulk and weight of some common popular 
measures of the acid may be asked in the witness-box. It may not be 
out of place here, therefore, to remark that a teaspoonful of distilled water 
commonly measures 5j> au ^ weighs 60 grains ; a tablespoon fid measures 
from 5iv to 5yj, and weighs from 240 to 360 grains ; a wineglassful meas- 
ures from siss. to sij, aud weighs from 720 to 960 graius; a teacupful 
measures commonly about sv, and weighs about 2400 grains. Remem- 
bering that water is considered to have a specific gravity of 1000, it is 
easy from these data to make other calculations. 

The boiling-points of the different acids vary. The ordinary English 
commercial acid requires a heat of 315.5° C. (600° F.). An acid having 
a specific gravity of 1780, boils at 223.9° C. (435° F.) ; and one having 
a specific gravity of 1650, boils at 176.6° C. (350° F.). The weaker the 
acid is, therefore, so the boiling-point is reduced. In distilling ordinary 
acid, the boiling-point is constantly rising, because the acid in the retort 
is constantly becoming more concentrated, until at last it requires a tem- 
perature of" 326.6° C. (620° F.) to boil it. 

Chemical Properties. 

(a) Affinity for Water. — This is very great. Dr. Letheby found (April, 
1870) that 100 grains of acid (sp. gr. 1842) freely exposed to the air in a 
basin, absorbed 120 grains of water in four days, its bulk being thereby in- 
creased threefold, and its density lowered to 1340. The absorption of water, 
however, by larger quantities is not in like proportion: 1000 grains of 
the same acid freely exposed to the air in a similar manner only ab- 
sorbed 232 grains of water in 24 hours, 430 grains in 48 hours, 580 grains 
in 72 hours, 690 grains in 96 hours, and 770 grains in 120 hours. The 
acid finally had a specific gravity of 1310, which is the point of dilution 
at which both weak and stroug solutions of the acid arrive when exposed 
to the air. Moreover, the discoloration of organic bodies produced by the 
action of the acid is due to its affinity for water, aud the consequent char- 
ring of the organic body. 

A great rise of temperature, and consequent condensation, occurs when 
sulphuric acid is mixed with water. This circumstance may be of consid- 
erable medico-legal importance, and we append, therefore, a table drawn 
up by Dr. Letheby, showing the heat and condensation resulting from 
various admixtures. The temperature of the day on which the experi- 
ments were made, was 22.22° C. (72° F.). It was noticed that the heat 
produced was a little greater when the water was poured into the acid than 
when the acid was poured into the water, and that the temperature of the 
mixture sinks very rapidly. 

Table showing the Heat and Condensation resulting from various Mixtures 
of Sidphuric Acid and Water. 

£ 7. 

O 3 




Bulk of 
Acid used. 


Bulk of 
Water used. 



Bulk of Ke- 

sultiDg Fluid 

when Cold. 

«» tx 

c = . 






Siij A 3vj 


Sij A 3ij 
















Sj A Sij 














Sij A 5ivs9. 









Sij A 3iij 




Sij A Sij 








































(/3) Action on Litmus. — This is very marked. It begins to fail when 
the amount of dry acid present is reduced to 0.015 per cent. 

(f) Action on Metal*. — Sulphurous anhydride is given off when strong 
acids (containing above 61 per cent, of S0 3 ) are boiled with zinc, copper, 
etc. The sulphurous anhydride can be detected by the blue tint devel- 
oped on a piece of white paper moistened with iodic acid and starch. The 
action of dilute acids (i.e., acids with less than 61 per cent of S0 3 ) on the 
common metals is to evolve hydrogen ; an action which is observable 
when the solution does not contain more than 0.00128 per cent, of the dry 

(<5) Action on Organic, Substances. 

(1) On Sugar. — Its action upon all kinds of cane-sugar is immediate, 

producing discoloration by the abstraction of water or of its 
elements. The action on the sugar is not marked, however, at 
ordinary temperatures with an acid of less specific gravity than 
1400 ; but if the temperature be raised, two drachms of an acid 
containing not more than 0.005 per cent, of acid will be found 
capable of charring about five grains of sugar. Hence, we 
note that it is impossible to administer sulphuric acid on a 
lump of sugar by mistake for gin, oil of aniseed, etc., unless it 
be given immediately. Nor could it be given with sugar dis- 
solved in water, as the charring effect produced by the acid in 
this way is even still more marked. It would be only possible 
to avoid this charring of the sugar, and then only to a limited 
extent, by thoroughly mixing the acid and the water before 
adding it to the sugar. 

(2) On Flour and Starch. — An acid of sp. gr. 1800 added to flour, 

turns it of a violet-red color, the change being due to the gluten 
that the starch contains. Weak solutions of sulphuric acid 
boiled with starchy matters, convert the starch into sugar, when 
iodine no longer has any action upon it. Very small quanti- 
ties of an acid solution will effect this change. One grain of 
starch boiled with a solution containing 0.5 grain of free acid, 
undergoes perfect decomposition. 

(3) On Wood. — Wood is charred immediately by an acid having a 

higher specific gravity than 1700. An olive-green tint is pro- 
duced by an acid having a specific gravity from 1600 to 1700. 
With an acid below 1400 no change is produced on wood. 
(4^ On Pa-per. — Strong acids (sp. gr. above 1800) discolor white 
paper immediately. A weak acid, however, placed on white 
paper, and held to the fire, will after a time char the paper, 
owing to the evaporation of the water of the acid and its con- 
centration. The paper to which a very weak acid has been 
applied, becomes very brittle. 

(5) On Linen Cloth. — Acids above sp. gr. 1700 carbonize linen cloth 

immediately. Solutions containing only 2 J th per cent, of free 
acid will rot the cloth, even if they do not discolor it. 

Thus we see that the various substances named are charred by strong 
acids, whilst with weak acids they suffer conversion into grape-sugar. 

(6) On Salicin. — Strong sulphuric acid produces a blood-red color. 

No action is perceptible with acids below sp. gr. 1616. 

(7) On Gallic or Tannic Acid. — Strong acids produce an orange-red 



(8) On Strong Solutions of Albumen (as undiluted white of egg). — 

An acid having a specific gravity above 1830 instantly coagu- 
lates it, changing it into a white opaque mass. In a few min- 
utes the albumen will be found charred along the line where 
the acid touches it, whilst, after an hour or so, the albumen 
will dissolve, and a brownish-yellow liquid be formed. This 
solutive actiou does not take place with acids having a less spe- 
cific gravity than 1400. Acids containing less than 40 per 
ceut. of dry acid have no action whatsoever on albuminous 

(9) On Weak Solutions of Albumen (as e. <7., the white of one egg 

mixed with 5J of water). — Such solutions are coagulated irn- 
meiliatelv bv acids having a specific gravity above 1390. From 
1390 to 1010 the action of the acid is slow. An acid below 
specific gravity 1010 does not precipitate albumen at all. 
(\Q) On Blood Serum. — An acid having a specific gravity of 1830 
instantly coagulates, and then dissolves, albumen. An acid 
below 1008 specific gravity has no action whatsoever. 

(11) On Demi Mucous Membrane. — Acids above specific gravity 1500 

produce a whitening effect on dead mucous membranes, and an 
appearance of their having been coated with white paint. A 
mere opalescence is produced with the weaker acids. If painted 
with a strong acid, the membrane will be carbonized after a few 
minutes; whilst with a weak acid, if the tissue be full of blood, 
a darkening effect only will be produced, due to the action of 
the acid on the blood coloring matters. It is important to note 
the intimate combination that takes place when sulphuric acid 
acts upon animal tissues, in order to explain occasional unsuc- 
cessful attempts to obtain the poison in after-death examina- 

(12) On Woollen Cloth. — A dirty-brown color is produced with acids 

having a specific gravity above 1830. The cloth soon becomes 
rotten and damp. This rottenness results when the cloth is 
treated even with very dilute solutions. 

It is to be remembered that the combination of the acid and the al- 
bumen is a true chemical compound, from which the acid cannot be washed 
awav by merely treating it with water. 

Symptoyns, Dose, etc. 

These of course depend largely upon the concentration of the acid and 
upon the quantity swallowed. If concentrated, the pain produced is im- 
mediate and intense. The mouth, throat, and tongue appear either as if 
covered with white paint, or else corroded and destroyed. It must be re- 
membered that if the acid be given to children in a spoon, the mouth may 
not be affected from the spoon having been put far back, whilst, on the 
contrary, the mouth only may be affected, the patieut having spit the acid 
out immediately and without having swallowed any. Death, however, 
may, even under these circumstances, take place from asphyxia. The 
voice is usually much affected, gaseous eructations occurring, with imme- 
diate and incessant vomiting of a brownish-colored bloody liquid contain- 
ing disorganized shreds of membrane. The pain becomes terrific, and the 
thirst great. The patient can neither swallow, nor speak, nor scarcely 
breathe ; the body is bathed in sweat, aud the face is livid. Very little 
action of either bowels or kidneys usually takes place. The mouth is, 


after a time, found full of sloughs, and filled with thick bloody matters. 
Exhaustion succeeds, possibly accompanied with nervous symptoms, such 
as tetanus, epilepsy, etc. In a less concentrated state the symptoms may 
be more or less delayed, but recovery is not common. Always ask to see 
the first vomit, as in this the free acid is most likely to be found. Care- 
fully search for spots about the patient's dress, as these may prove impor- 
tant evidence in the case. The state of the lips where some of the acid 
may have run out of the mouth should also be particularly noticed. 

Death usually happens in from two to twenty-five hours, but it has 
occurred within an hour. It is always rapid when perforation occurs in 
the stomach, or when the action of the acid on the windpipe is severe and 
extensive. On the other hand it may be delayed for weeks and months, 
death resulting under these circumstances from secondary consequences, 
such as ulceration of the stomach or bowels, disease of the pylorus, 
chronic dyspepsia, or even starvation. 

As regards quantity: half a drachm has killed a child (set. 1) in twenty- 
four hours, aud a drachm an adult in seven days. Recovery has occurred 
after one ounce of the strong acid in a boy aged nine. The action of the 
acid is much influenced by the quantity of food present in the stomach 
when the poison is taken, upon which, if abundant, the activity of the 
poison may be spent. 


Your attention must be directed entirely to neutralizing the poison. 
The administration of white of egg, soap and water, chalk and water, and, 
better still, of calcined magnesia, must be the main treatment. Alkaline 
carbonates are not nearly so good as the corresponding lime and magnesia 
salts. The stomach-pump must not be dreamt of. The plaster from the 
ceiling or from the wall may be used if nothing else be at hand. Burns 
on the skin with the acid may be treated first with carbonate of soda aud 
then with a mixture of oil aud lime-water. ^Nutritive euemata must be 
given if other means of administering food fail. Leeches to the pit of the 
stomach may be advisable. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

Examine carefully first of all for spots of the acid (probably of a dark- 
brown color), about the mouth and upon other parts where it may possibly 
have been spilt. The mouth, throat, and gullet will usually present the 
most marked effects, although cases are on record (one scarcely knows how 
to credit them), where these parts have not been affected at all!!! {vide 
"Lancet," March 3, 1838, p. 840). The mouth will appear soft and cor- 
roded, and as if covered with white paint, whilst the throat and gullet 
will be seen to have portious of the mucous membrane completely stripped 
off, or else dark-colored blood (as if charred) effused iu patches on an ash- 
gray surface. The stomach will usually be found intensely inflamed, 
either completely or in patches, and traversed with black linos. It is fre- 
quently contracted and collapsed, the mucous membrane appearing black, 
corrugated, and partly stripped off", and the surface underneath intensely 
red. In about one-third of the cases, and more frequently with sulphuric 
than with the other mineral acids, the stomach has been found perforated, 
the aperture being irregular and the edges black as if charred, intense 
inflammatory action being appareut on the parts surrounding the opening. 
The liquid in the stomach, which is usually of a tarry appearance (a mix- 
ture of black blood, acid, and mucus), when it escapes through the open- 
ing will be found to have attacked the surrounding parts and viscera. Of 
course the degree of acidity and consequently the extent of action will 


depend ou the amount of acid swallowed, and the time that has elapsed 
beforeits escape from the stomach, but even when there is no perforation 
it is usual to find considerable inflammatory action with a coating of 
lymph on the peritoneal surface of the viscera. The bladder is generally 
empty and contracted. If life is prolonged for eighteen or twenty hours, 
more or less inflammation is certain to be found in the small intestines. 
In some cases the windpipe, the bronchial tubes, and also the lining mem- 
brane of the aorta have been found much inflamed. In one case, reported 
by Dr. Letheby, none of the acid went into the stomach, but passed down 
the trachea into the lungs. The lungs were charred and the rings of the 
trachea completely dissected out. The acid had escaped into the cavity 
of the pleura and dissolved the ribs ou the left side. 

It is stated that the bodies of persons poisoned with the mineral acids 
remain without smell for a long time after death, probably from the am- 
monia evolved being neutralized by the free acid. 

An indigo-blue tint is often found in the mucous membranes after poison- 
ing bv this acid. 


1. Taste. — The solution is perceptibly sour, even when it only contains 
70 1 oo t ' 1 P art °f anhydrous acid. 

2. Action on Litmus. — The reddening produced by the acid on litmus is 
distinct when 1 part of anhydrous acid is diluted with 6000 of water. 

3. Saturated Solution of Chloride of Calcium gives a copious white pre- 
cipitate, insoluble in dilute nitric and hydrochloric acids. A turbidity is 
distinctly apparent when the solution only contains 0.014 per cent, of 

4. Acetate of Lead gives a white precipitate, insoluble in dilute acids. 

5. Chloride of Barium (or titrate of Baryta) gives a white precipitate, 
insoluble in free acids and caustic alkalies. The turbidity is apparent 
with a solution consisting of 1 of acid in 62,500 of water. 

The baryta salt must never be added to a neutral or an alkaline solu- 
tion, otherwise carbonic, phosphoric, oxalic acids, etc., may be precipitated, 
but all of which compounds are soluble in nitric or hydrochloric acids. 

Inasmuch as other bodies give a similar precipitate with a baryta salt, 
it i~ necessary further to prove that the precipitate so produced is a 

(a) To do this the precipitate must be collected and dried, and mixed 
with about four times its bulk of powdered wood charcoal. 
The mixture is then to be heated strongly to redness in a pla- 
tinum crucible. By this means the sulphate (BaSO,) will be 
reduced to sulphide (BaS). Now add to the cold residue in a 
test-tube or watch-glass a few drops of dilute hydrochloric acid 
(one to one), and apply heat, when sulphuretted hydrogen will 
be generated, which may be known either by its blackening 
moistened lead-paper held near it, or, if the gas be passed 
through a solution of acetate of lead, by the formation and 
precipitation of the black sulphide. 
(,S) The ignited residue of the sulphide may, if the quantity is very 
small, be placed on a piece of moistened lead-paper and 
touched with a drop of dilute hydrochloric acid, when the lead- 
paper will immediately be blackened. 

6. Nitrate of Strontia gives a white precipitate, partially soluble in water 
and in dilute acids. 

7. If sulphuric acid be gently heated in a test-tube with some pieces of 


wood, copper, or mercury, etc., sulphurous acid is given off. This will im- 
part a blue tiut to a piece of starch-paper moistened with iodic acid held 
over the tube. It must be removed the moment the tint is developed, as 
otherwise the color will be bleached by prolonged exposure to the acid 

8. Veratria added to a drop of the concentrated acid produces at first a 
yellow and afterwards a crimson-red solution. No results are produced 
by its action on neutral sulphates. 

9. Paper is carbonized by the strong acid, but not by the dilute. If you 
have to test a dilute acid, wet a piece of white paper at one spot with it 
and heat before a fire. As soon as the acid becomes sufficiently concen- 
trated by evaporation, the paper will turn black. 

The question is a very important one, How are we to distinguish free acid 
from that in combination f Various plans have been proposed : 

1. It has been suggested to evaporate the solution to dryness. If there 
is simply free sulphuric acid present, it is supposed that no sulphate will 
be fouud in the residue. This, however, may or may not be true. 

2. It has been suggested to shake the solution up with fiuely powdered 
carbonate of baryta or lead, with which it is said the free acid will com- 
bine, but not the sulphates. But the fact is, combination occurs both with 
the free acid and with the soluble sulphates. 

3. The following process the authors recommend : Divide the suspected 
liquid into two parts (1 aud 2). 

(1) Acidulate the one part with nitric acid, precipitate with a baryta 

salt, collect the precipitate, ignite and weigh. 

(2) Evaporate the other part to dryness, dissolve the residue in water 

acidulated with nitric acid, filter, precipitate with a baryta salt, 
collect the precipitate, ignite and weigh. 

The sulphate of barium of the former (1) denotes the amount of acid 
present, both free and combined, whilst the latter (2) denotes the amount 
of acid present in a combined --fate only, whilst the amount of free acid 
may be estimated by the difference. But even this process is not entirely 
free from possible error, — 1st, from the presence of a supersidphate, which 
may by overdrying be calculated as free acid ; and 2dly, if an alkaline 
chloride be present, the free acid, if there be any, may become fixed by 
combining with the alkaline base. 

If you have a pure colorless solution containing sulphuric acid, aud 
wish to test whether some of the acid be present in a free state or not, pro- 
ceed as follows : 

(a) Evaporate the solution until it has acquired a gravity of 1140, then 
mix with it a few grains of sugar, and boil. If the solution be rendered 
dark, it is a proof that free acid is present, the darkening effect on sugar 
not being produced by sulphates. 

(,$) Evaporate another portion of the solution until it acquires a sp. gr. 
of 1600. Heat this with a few grains of metallic copper. If a free acid 
be present, sulphurous acid fumes will be given off. 

Toxieologieal Analysis. 

We have now to consider the processes necessary to be employed when 
the acid is present along with organic matters and alkaline chlorides, such 
a.- is found iu an ordinary toxicologic^ investigation. You must not ex- 
pect in such cases to find much, if any, free acid. The attempts at neu- 
tralizing the poison, its own power of combining with albuminous sub- 


stances, the profuse vomiting induced, and the amount of fluid that is 
taken, owing to the intense thirst, render the chances doubtful of detecting 
any free acid at all. Nor can it be questioned that the detection of sul- 
phuric acid in organic liquids is altogether a most difficult problem. 

We have in dialysis no doubt a very ready method of separating sul- 
phuric acid as well as other acids ), from its admixture with organic bodies. 
But it must be remembered that soluble sulphates also dialyze, although 
their presence may be easily determined by evaporating to dryness some 
of the water into which the dialysis has been effected. 

(A) Dr. Letheby advises the following process : 

1st. Evaporate the contents of the stomach on a water-bath down to a 
thick syrup. Exhaust this with strong alcohol (sp. gr. 834) and filter; test 
the filtered liquid with baryta. Only the free acid will be taken up by the 

2dly. The residue (containing soluble sulphates) is then to be digested 
with water, filtered, and the filtrate precipitated with baryta. 

3dly. But if antidotes, such as lime, etc., have been given, the residue 
may still contain earthy sulphates, such as sulphate of lime, which is only 
very slightly soluble iu water. Boil the remaiuing residue, therefore, for 
about an hour with an excess of a solution of carbonate of soda, when car- 
bonate of lime will be precipitated aud sulphate of soda left in solution. 
This is then to be filtered, acidulated with nitric acid, and precipitated 
with a baryta salt. In this way all the sulphuric acid present in the con- 
tents of the stomach may be estimated as — 

(a) Free acid. 

(ft) Acid existing as alkaline sulphates. 

(/) Acid existing as earthy sulphates. 

Each of these precipitates must be collected and weighed, and they 
should severally be proved to be sulphates by the process already indi- 

(B) But we have to note further, that some of the sulphuric acid taken 
may have combined with albuminous bodies. In this state the mere wash- 
iug the tissue will be altogether insufficient to remove it. The following 
process should then be adopted : 

Any tissue attacked by the acid, such as the coats of the stomach, is to 
be washed, wiped dry, and weighed. It is then to be dissolved by the 
action of heat in a solution consisting of one part of nitric acid, two of 
hydrochloric acid, and two of water. Allow this to stand for a time, and 
filter, and precipitate the filtrate with nitrate of baryta ; collect the pre- 
cipitate and weigh. All the sulphate of baryta exceeding half a grain per 
cent, of the wet material used, may be regarded as abnormal acid brought 
into contact with the tissue in a free aud corrosive state. Dr. Letheby, as 
well as the authors, from numerous experiments have never obtained more 
than 0.4 gr. of sulphate of baryta from normal wet tissue, and, as a rule, 
not more than 0.2 per cent. The results of dipping pieces of stomachs 
into dilute acids and testing them afterwards, prove that there ought to be 
no difficulty in deciding, with considerable accuracy, by this means, the 
amount of acid present over and above what is normal. 

(C ) Again; the urine should, if possible, be examined for the poison, 
not forgetting, however, that alkaliue sulphates are present in natural 
and healthy urine. The amount of sulphuric acid in normal urine varies 
from 0.1 to 0.4 per cent. The urine, indeed, is the great eliminator of the 


sulphates. After a dose either of the free acid or of a sulphate has been 
taken, it will probably be found in the urine within two hours of its being 
swallowed, but it exists, according to Bence Jones, in this secretion in the 
greatest abundance after about seven hours. The amount of normal sul- 
phuric acid in the urine is even increased by taking dry sulphur. 

Amount of Sulphuric Acid present in Normal Urine as found by different 


Per cent, of Sulphuric Acid, 

Simon, Neubauer, 

and Vogel, 

from 0.10 to 0.23 


< < • • 



■ • ■ • 

from 0.36 to 0.37 


• • • • 


Mart-hand, . 

• . • • 

from 0.31 to 0.33 


• . • • 

from 0.024 to 0.31 

Bence Jones, 


from 0.26 to 0.52 

Tidy, . . 


from 0.16 to 0.38 

Neubauer and Vogel state that about two grammes (31 grains nearly) 
is the average daily amount in the urine of health. 

The greatest quantity is always found after taking food. 

Hence, whilst we urge the advisability of examining the urine in cases 
where poisoning by sulphuric acid is suspected, it must not be forgotten 
that the mere discovery of an excess of the acid scarcely constitutes 
important evidence of itself, unless other circumstances tend to confirm 
the suspicion. In the case of an adult who had swallowed a large dose of 
the acid, one of the authors found on the second day 28.74 graius, whilst 
Dr. Letheby has, after a similar time, found as much as 50.8 grains in 
the urine. 

(D) Detection of the Acid on Wood and Clothing. — In almost every case 
of poisoning by this acid, spots here and there will be found. If it falls 
upon wood the ligneous tissue is blackened and discolored. A little dis- 
tilled water will easily remove the acid. If upon linen, when it is strong 
acid, it chars and corrodes it, and if it is weak, a damp soluble sugar)' com- 
pound will be left. If upon wool, the fabric is rendered damp, rotten, and 
discolored. On black cloth the stain is first red, becoming after a time of 
a brown color. In all cases where a strong acid has caused the stains, 
they continue damp for a very considerable time. 

If the fabric be dyed with indigo the acid produces no action upon the 
coloring body ; if with archil and other blues, the stain will be red ; if with 
logwood and madder, it will be yellow; and if an iron mordant has been 
used a rust-red spot will be left. But never guess at stains. They con- 
stitute most important evidence, and great care is consequently needed 
before any conclusions are drawn from them. To detect the free acid pro- 
ceed as follows. Cut out the spot that is stained, and 

(1) Apply it to your tongue. If it is due to acid, it will very likely 
have a sharp taste. 

(2) Moisten it with water and press upon it a piece of blue litmus- 
paper, noting whether it be reddened or not. 

(3) Digest it for some time in about half a drachm of water, filter, and 
test the filtrate with nitric acid and chloride of barium. 

In this way you will easily discover the acid, even after very consider- 
able periods. Dr. Letheby found that he was able to recover by this 
means very nearly the whole of the acid he spilt on pieces of various 
fabrics. Christison recovered at least one-half after seven weeks. Dr. 


Tavlor states that the acid may be found on fabrics after years have 

But it must be remembered that many articles of dress contain sulphuric 
acid, consequent upon having been treated during their manufacture with 
some sulphate, such as alum, copperas, etc. Always, therefore, make a 
quantitative examination of the amount, of sulphate present in a smiliar 
weight of the sound fabric at the same time that you examine the portion 
which has been stained. In this way you will be able to compare the 
results of the two experiments. 

Again : the fabric may have been washed, and by this means most of 
the acid got rid of. But the washing will not hide the alterations of color 
and texture, nor will it remove the acid that exists in combination with 
the organic matter. In these cases also you must make quantitative 
analyses of both the sound and the injured parts, and then compare the 
results. For this purpose proceed as follows: 

Take given weights of the fabric, and heat with a little dilute nitro- 
muriatic acid (1 of HN0 3 , 2 of HC1, and 2 of H 2 0), filter and precipi- 
tate with a soluble barvta salt. Then ignite the precipitate and weigh 
(vide the " Lancet," Oct. 2, 1841, p. 20). 

Quantitative Estimation of Sulphuric Acid. 

To estimate the total acid (free and combined), acidulate the liquid 
with nitric acid, and add an excesss of a baryta salt. Collect the precipi- 
tate, ignite and weigh. Every 117 grains is equal to 40 grains of sulphuric 
acid, or in the proportion very nearly of three to one. 

If the liquid contains only sulphates and sulphuric acid, the free acid 
can be estimated by a standard solution of carbonate of soda. 


CASE 1.— "Lancet," Jan. 2,1847, p. 43 (Dr. Letheby). Male: set. 9. Sj — 133 grains of anhydrous 
oil of vitriol. 

Symptoms.— Intense pain in throat and stomach ; lips as if smeared with white paint; vomiting 
of charred mucus. Five minutes elapsed before antidotes were given. For five days the acid was 
found in the urine in large quantity. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 2.—" Lancet," July 10, 1847, p. 35 (Dr. Chowne). Female : set. 52. Sss. 

Symptoms. — Immediate sense of straugulation ; voice remained natural ; oesophagus corroded. 

Result. — Death in forty hours. 

Post-mortem. — Epiglottis very inflamed ; oesophagus of a dirty ash-red color; mucous membrane 
of the stomach "destroyed, especially at the cardiac end. 

CASE 3.—" Lancet," Dec. 5, 1857, p. 579 (Dr. Winn). Female : art. 4. A quantity ? 

Symptoms. — Very bad symptoms. 

Result. — Recovery. 

OASE 4— "Medical Times and Gazette," July 20, 1850, p. 58 (Dr. Letheby). Male : art. 6. A 
tablespoonful of strong acid. 

Symptoms. — Chin and lips excoriated; tongue, mouth, and fauces white; front of dress corroded 
by the acid ; retching, but no other very urgent symptoms. Acid present in the urine after teD 
hours. 1000 grains gave = 7 grains strong H».S0 4 In 10 days it was normal. Recovery rapid, 
constipation and diuresis being the only special symptoms that occurred. Never had afterwards 
any gastric symptoms. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 5.—" Medical Times and Gazette," July 20, 1850, p. 58 (Dr. Letheby). Male : art. 42 ; male : 
set. 19 Quantity of acid thrown in the face. 

Symptoms — Symptoms severe. In the elder the eye sloughed away. 

Be ra It. — Recovery. 

CASE 6.— "Medical Times and Gazette," July 20, 1850, p. 58 (Dr. Letheby). Female. 2 penny- 
worth • "). 

Symptoms. — Found dead. 

Rrsvtt - Death. 

Post-mortem. — Poison did not reach the stomach, but eroded the epiglottis, and passed down the 


trachea into the lungs. The rings of the trachea were dissected out by the acid, and the lungs 
charred ; the acid escaped into the cavity of the pleura, and dissolved the ribs on the left side. 

CASE 7.— " Medical Times," January 15, 1848, p. 258 (Dr. G. Corfe). Male: set. 40. Half a pint. 

Symptoms. — Seemed as if strangled; great agony, and could only speak in a faint whisper; 
epithelium of lips and tongue partially removed and white. Vomiting came on, succeeded by 

Result. — Death in seventeen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Epithelium of (esophagus and stomach detached and corroded; throughout the 
intestines and mucous membrane was scarlet; stomach appeared as if black pitch had been laid 
over it. 

CASE 8.—" Lancet," November 26, 1853, p. 502 (Mr. Dickinson). Female: set. 52. Sss. with Sss. 
of water. 

Symptoms.— Immediate pain ; (carbonate of magnesia taken directly); constipation very trouble- 
some. Recovery very rapid when it commenced. No corrosion of mouth or throat. 

Result. — Recovery in five months. 

CASE 9. — " Lancet," 1870, p. 540. Female. Took some in her mouth and spat it out. 

Symptoms. — Intense pain in mouth, throat, and stomach; difficulty of breathing for two days. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 10.— "Edinburgh Monthly Journal ;" June, 1850, p. 538 (Dr. Walker). Male: ret. 30. Sij. 
nearly (s. g. 1842). 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in three-quarters of an hour; but not immediate. 

Resu/t. — Death in twenty-five hours. 

Post-mortem. — Pylorus much constricted ; duodenum inflamed ; aorta inflamed ; no acid found in 

CASE 11.— "Medical Gazette," vol. xxix.p. 147. Mt. 1 year. Haifa teaspoonful. 

Result. — Death in twenty-four hours. 

CASE 12.— Christison, p. 162. Male: adult. 5j. 

Result.— Death in seven days. 

CASE 13.— "Gazette Medicale," December 28, 1850. Male: set. 50. Siiiss. 

Result.— Death in forty-five minutes. 

CASE 14.— "Lancet," 1837-8, vol. ii, p. 782 (Dr. Gardner). Male: adult. 5ss. 

Symptoms. — Salivation, Recovery after twelve days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 15.—" Lancet," April 14, 1838, p. 93 (Dr. Wilson). Female : adult. A quantity (?) 

Symptoms. — Lived in great suffering for forty-five weeks. At the end of six months threw up 
■whilst coughing the entire lining membrane of the cesophagus. 

Result— Death. 

Post- mortem, — The lower two-thirds of cesophagus thickened and narrowed; stomach perforated; 
dark-colored fluid in abdomen, but no inflammation. 

CASE 16.— "Lancet," June 11, 1842, p. 365 (Dr. Scoffern). Female: adult. Dose (?) 

Symptoms. — Black frothy matter issued from mouth; mind clear. In twelve hours rallied con- 
siderably. In sixteen hours nervous symptoms set in, and death occurred in about eighteen hours 
and a half after taking the poison. 

Result. — Death in eighteen hours. 

Post-mortem,— All parts as far as the duodenum blackened aud inflamed ; kidneys very inflamed, 
and very acid to litmus. 

CASE 17.—" Lancet," February 6, 1869, p. 192 (Dr. Fripp). Male : set. 40. About. Sss. on empty 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and pain ; mouth and fauces white and sodden ; walked a mile immediately 
after taking it. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 18.—" Lancet," December 7, 1872, p. 816 (Mr. Bond). Female : ret. 31, pregnant. Dose (?) 

Symptoms. — Pain and vomiting; labor came on in the night. Patient progressed favorably for a 
fortnight, when she complained of sickness and difficulty of swallowing food ; stricture of oesophagus 
came on, which had to be dilated with a catheter, and food introduced. 

Result. — Death in thirty-seven days. 

Post-mortem. — Month and fauces found to have recovered their normal state; the stricture of 
cesophagus had almost disappeared, but there was complete absence of mucous membrane ; stomach 
black; mucous membrane partially detached, and underneath it were found patches of fibrinous 
exudation a quarter of an inch thick. 

CASE 19.—" Medical Times and Gazette," February 16, 1867, p. 182 (Dr. Crawford^. Female : ret. 
35. A wineglassful. 

Symptoms.— Immediate burning pain in throat and stomach. (Bicarbonate of soda was given 
after ten minutes); violent vomiting. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 20.—" Medical Times and Gazette," July 26, 1873, p. 92 (Dr. Burderl. Male: let. 34. Sij. 

Symptoms. — Speedy insensibility ; vomiting of black acid fluid; lips white. 

Result. — Death in eight hours and a half. 


Post-mortem. — Lips white and dry; tongue brownish-black and shrivelled; trachea inflamed, and 
covered with a brown glutinous liquid ; stomach completely charred, and perforated at the cardiac 
end ; two perforations in the duodenum. The jejunum looked as if covered with dirty white paint. 

CASE 21.— "Medical Times and Gazette," April 21, 1SG0, p. 408 (Dr. Ogle). Male: set. 53. A 

Symptoms. — Dropped down after taking it, as if in a fit, suddenly ; lips corroded ; collapse; (stomach- 
pump used I) 

Result— Death in nine hours. 

PM-morlem. — Mucous membrane of the tongue very slightly affected; oesophagus corroded; 
ch and duodenum appeared as if charred ; other parts inflamed. 

CASK 22.— "Medical Times and Gazette," Nov. 10. 1855, p. 470 (Dr. Habershonl. Female: tet. 55. 
A wineglassful of dilute arid taken during a fit of melancholy (1 to 3 or 4 parts water). 

Svmp/oms. — Collapse in two hours; no stain on mouth or on lips; bloody vomiting and purging ; 
sensible to the last. 

Result.— Death on eleventh day. 

Post-morfem. — Mucous membrane injected at the posterior part of the mouth; epithelium of 
oesophagus nowhere destroyed ; stomach dull slate color, and mucous membrane here and there de- 
tached and destroyed. All the intestines much congested. 

(ASK 23.—" Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 19, 1S57, p. 629 (Dr. Jenner). Female. 3ij of dilute 
acid nearly half and half i. 

Symptoms. — Bloody vomiting ; mouth white. In two hours collapse. On the sixth day retention of 
urine set in; sensible to the last. 

R'srtft. — Death on the sixteenth day. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach perforated in three places; none of the contents escaped ; stomach con- 
tracted ; the pyloric half was most affected. Nothing to be remarked in the pharynx or oesophagus; 
npp t part of duodenum inflamed : remainder of intestines normal. 

CASK 24— "Medical Times and Gazette," Feb. 21, 1863. p. 1S3 [Dr. Higinbothom). Male: ffit. 50. 
3vj fa, g. 1848) diluted with 3ij of water taken on an empty stomach. 

s ' mpftmu.— Great pain ; tongue of a dead white color, but no vomiting or purging; collapse. 

Result. — Death in two hours and a half. 

P»s(-morteni — Sides of tongue white and leathery; oesophagus brown and worm-eaten ; not perfor- 
ated : stomach internally covered with a black gelatinous coat, but no perforations. 

CASK 25.— "British Medical Journal," Sept. 18, 1S69, p.325 (Dr. Wardell). Female: aet. 40. 5iiss. of 
strong acid mixed with an equal quantity of water. 

Symptoms. — Desperate agony ; pupils contracted, mouth, lips, and throat pearly white ; mind clear 
to the last. 

Bemtit. — Death in three hours. 

Post-mortem. — Abdominal viscera charred ; stomach perforated, the edges beingthin and corroded ; 
duodenum small and contracted; oesophagus grayish-white and contracted; dress and skin much 

For further Cases of Poisoning by Sulphuric Acid see: 

"Medical Times and Gazette," April 2.1864. p. 380. (Death ; two perforations in stomach.) 

"Medical Times," April 10 and 24, 1847, p. 185 and 145. (Poutypoolcase.) 

Schmidt's " Jahrb.," vol. civ, p. 7. 

" Medical Gazette," vol. 48, p. 32S. (Death in 34 hours.) 

" Medical Gazette." vol. 45, p. 1102. 

"Lancet," J834, vol. i, p. 266; 1836, vol. i, p. 195.' 

" Medi al Gazette," vol. i, p. 127 ; vol. vil, p. 27; vol. xxii, p. 76; vol. xxv, p. 944; vol. xxx, p. 352. 

" Medical and Physical Journal," vol. i, p. 500. 

"Medical Repository," vol xiv, p. 160. 

"Guy's Hospital Reports," vol. iv, p. 297. 


(Hydric Nitrate — Azotic Acid — Fuming Spirits of Nitre — Glauber's 
Spirits of Nitre — Aqua Fortis — Solutive Water.) 

Nitric acid is generally prepared by heating potassic or sodic nitrate 
with sulphuric acid, and distilling 

H 2 SO, + NaN0 3 = NaHSO, + HN0 3 . 

Traces of nitric acid are formed when an electric spark is passed through 
moi-t air. For this reason rain-water is usually fouud to contain a trace 
of nitric acid produced by atmospheric electricity. Potassic nitrate in 
India and sodic nitrate in Chili are found as efflorescences on the soil. 


Nitrates are frequently found in the well waters of large cities, but not 
often in those of country places. This proves that their source may be 
traceable to living beings. Excrementitious matters liberate ammonia, 
and this undergoing oxidation furnishes the acid. We shall note directly 
that nitric acid can, under the influence of nascent hydrogen, furnish am- 
monia, whilst conversely ammonia can furnish nitric acid, or, more properly, 
a nitrate under certain circumstances, such as the presence of a strong base. 
Hence the amount of nitrates in a water is indicative of the pollution of 
a stream or well by foul and putrefying products. 

The cases of poisouiug on record by nitric acid are much fewer than 
those by sulphuric acid. 

Varieties of Nitric Acid. 

1. Anhydrous Nitric Acid (N.,0 5 ) was discovered by Deville in 1849. 
It is a solid crystalline body, and is prepared by passing chlorine over ar- 
gentic nitrate, and condensing the products in an ice-cold receiver. It is 
not a permanent body. 

4AgN0 3 + 4C1 = 4 AgCl + 2 + 2N A- 

2. Commercial Nitric Acids are of different degrees of strength. They 
are fuming liquids, colorless if pure, but generally tinted, owing to the 
presence of one or other of the lower oxides of nitrogen. 

Their specific gravity varies with their strength. The ordinary acid has 
a gravity of about 1220. Rouelle is stated to have procured an acid with 
a gravity of 1583. The strongest acid has generally a of about 1512. 


1. Lower Compounds of Oxygen and Nitrogen. — Their existence is gen- 
erally due to the decomposition of the acid. Their presence is known by 
the color they impart to the acid, the tint-depth being in direct proportion 
to the quantity present. If on diluting the acid with three times its bulk 
of water, and adding a little saturated solution of sulphuretted hydrogen, 
no turbidity is produced, you may be satisfied the acid contains at most 
but the merest trace of these impurities. 

2. Chlorine, derived from the alkaline chlorides in the saltpetre, is known 
by a precipitate being produced with nitrate of silver. 

3. Iodine as Iodic Acid may be derived from Chili nitrate of soda, which 
frequently contains alkaline iodides, being used in the manufacture of the 
acid. According to M. Lambert it is present in most samples of the com- 
mercial acid. To detect the impurity neutralize the acid with carbonate 
of soda, mix with a little starch, and add cautiously, drop by drop, strong 
sulphuric acid, when, if iodine or its compounds be present, the character- 
istic blue color of the iodide of starch will be obtained. 

4. Sulphuric Acid may be preseut, derived from the materials used in 
the manufacture of the acid. A white precipitate will be produced with 
a solution of nitrate of baryta. 

5. Iron is a very common impurity. It will be precipitated as a yel- 
lowish brown deposit ou supersaturating the acid with ammonia. 

6. Alumina, Potash and Soda Salts, etc., can be easily recognized in the 
saline residue left after the complete evaporation of the acid. 

7. Arsenic has been mentioned as an occasional impurity. Neither Dr. 
Letheby nor the authors have ever found it in the acid. 

Purification of Nitric Acid. 

Dilute the acid with its own bulk of water. Heat the mixture, and 
whilst hot, add, for every 100 grains of the strong acid about one grain of 



bichromate of potash for the purpose of oxidizing any of the lower 
oxides of nitrogen that may be present. Theu add nitrate of silver so 
long as any curdy precipitate is formed. Set the acid aside for twenty- 
four hours, siphon off the clear liquid, aud distil almost to dryness at a 
very gentle heat, rejecting the first half of the distillate. The acid will 
then be pure, aud have a sp. gr. of about 1400. 

Table exhibiting the Sjiecijic Gravities and percentage Strengths of various 
solutions of Nitric Anhydride (isfi b ) and Citric Acid (HN0 3 ), (Att- 


HNO, — 63. 

N,0, = 108. 


HNO, = 63. 

N a 0, = 108 


92 983 









45 562 


1 4960 


78 106 



38 256 







1 4910 






1 4880 





35 865 





40 913 

35 068 






34 271 






33 474 











37 190 






36 263 


















33 474 

























25 504 



64 557 















23. 1 13 




1 1587 













24 176 


1.42 B. P. 



1 1403 








19 128 




1 1286 





58 181 





66 948 






66 018 

56 587 


18 597 
















54 196 

1 0993 






1 0935 

15 807 







12 752 





13 947 


1 3681 









1 0708 

12 088 


1 3579 











8 767 






7 970 












6 376 







1 3270 










4 649 





1 0212 

3 719 






2 789 


1 3056 













If you require a very strong acid, it must be again distilled after mix- 
ing it with its own bulk of concentrated sulphuric acid. An acid of sp. 
gr. 1500, or even higher, may be obtaiued by this means. 

The boiling-point of the acid varies somewhat — 

An acid of 

sp. gr. 1500 boils at 

98.88° C. (210° F.) 


" 1450 


115.51° C. (240° F.) 


" 1420 


120.00° C. (248° F.) 


" 1400 


119.44° C. (247° F.) 


" 1350 


116.66° C. (242° F.) 


" 1300 


113.33° C. (236° F.) 


" 1200 


107.77° C. (226° F.) 


" 1150 


103.88° C. (219° F.) 

The congealing-point of pure anhydrous acid is a little below that of 

An acid of sp. gr. 1500 freezes at —40.00° C. (—40° F.) 
1400 " —40.55° C. (—41° F.) 

1330 " — 41.11° C. (—42° F.) 

1235 " —41.66° C. (—43° F.) 

By keeping, and more particularly if it be exposed to light, nitric acid 
undergoes alteration, and becomes more or less colored. It has a strong 
affinity for water (attracting it even from the air), evolving, at the time 
of its combination, a very considerable amount of heat. We have found 
that one volume of nitric acid (sp. gr. 1404) mixed with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 
6 volumes of water, yielded acids, the densities of which were 1234, 1100, 
1120, 1096, 1080, and 1070, whilst the mean specific gravities should have 
been 1202, 1135, 1101, 1080.8, 1067, and 1058. 

The concentrated acid gives off colorless or orange-colored fumes at 
ordinary temperatures. No residue is left on evaporation, if the acid be 

Nitric acid reddens litmus when the solution only contains 0.2 per cent. 
of the acid. It acts on nearly all metals except gold and platinum, the 
action varying according to the dilution and the temperature. An acid 
having a sp. gr. from 1.35 to 1.25 will usually be found to be the most 
powerful in its action on metallic bodies. Zinc dissolves in dilute nitric 
acid freely, some of the HN0 3 being reduced to N 2 0. With a very dilute 
solution, the acid may even be completely reduced, and in the presence of 
metallic iron with a great excess of caustic potash, ammonia formed. 

Nitric acid is an intense oxidizing agent; and this being the case, free 
hydrogen is never developed by its action on the metals. In other words, 
hydrogen is, no doubt, set free, but is instantly oxidized at the expense of 
the oxygen of the nitric acid. Thus — 

1st. Cu + 2HN0 3 = Cu2NO + 3 H 2 . 
2d. 3H 2 + 2HNO, = 2NO + 4H 2 0. 

The NO upon coming into contact with oxygen becomes oxidized, pro- 
ducing N 2 Oj, or N 2 3 , which may be known by the deep red fumes 

Action on Vegetable Matters. 

1. On saccharine bodies. Provided the temperature does not exceed 
21.1° C. (70° F.), the very strongest nitric acid produces no perceptible 


change on saccharine bodies, but if the mixture be raised to the boiling- 
point, then the organic matter is more or less completely converted into 
oxalic acid. Schlesinger states that the best proportions of sugar and 
nitric acid in the fabrication of oxalic acid are four parts of well-dried 
sugar, and thirty-three parts of nitric acid (sp. gr. 1380). This will yield 
56 to 60 per cent, of oxalic acid. With weaker acids (e.g., one having a 
sp. gr. of 1250), saccharic acid (C g H, O 8 ) is formed, whilst with acids that 
are still weaker, after prolonged boiling, sotcchulmine, a brown crystalline 
insoluble substance, is produced. 

2. Oa flour, starch, and bread. A strong acid dissolves flour, and con- 
verts it into a jelly-like mass. A weak acid has very little action unless 
heat be employed, when oxalic, carbonic, and other acids are produced. 

Bread mixed with an acid of 1300 is immediately stained yellow, 
whilst even with one of 1180, a similar change after a time takes 
place, the bread assuming a soft gummy consistence. 

3. On wood. Nitric acid darkens wood wherever it touches it. The 
stain varies with the strength of the acid, and also very much with the kind 
of wood to which it is applied, in consequence of the varying quantities of 
resin contained in different species. 

4. On paper and linen cloth. An acid below 1400 has no action 
either on linen or paper, unless they are boiled with the acid, when it dis- 
solves them, oxalic and other acids being formed. A strong acid (sp. gr. 
l"ii ID) converts paper or linen into a tough parchment-like body, which 
takes fire at a low temperature. 

5. Many of the vegetable alkalies, such as morphia, brucia, nicotine, etc., 
assume a red tint with acids above 1300 

6. Most vegetable colors are discharged by strong nitric acid, whilst if the 
fabric be of animal origin, a brownish-red stain will be left. 

Action oyi Animal Substances. 

1. On strong and dilute albumen. (See table on page 233.) 

2. Dead mucous membranes are coagulated, and turned of a yellow color 
by acids having a above 1180. 

3. The cuticle is also stained by the action of the acid. An acid of 1300 
colors the skin almost directly, whilst one of sp. gr. 1180 stains it in about 
five minutes. 

4. On woollen fabrics. The acid produces a yellow stain on woollen 
bodies. With an acid of 1500, the tissue is decomposed, a yellow 
pulpy magma being left, which rapidly dissolves in an excess of the acid. 

As regards the action, therefore, of nitric acid on albuminous substances, 
we note that whilst weak acids merely coagulate albumen (a nitrate of 
albumen being formed!, strong acids effect a further change by producing 
a yellow substance, known as xanthoproteic acid. 

The action of nitric acid, it must be further remarked, is rendered less 
energetic by dilution, but more energetic by its admixture with sulphuric 
acid, from the property the oil of vitriol possesses of abstracting water from 
bodies with which it has been brought iuto contact. 



Table, shoxcing the Action of Nitric Aeids of Different Strength on Concen- 
trated and Dilute Albumen. 


On strong Albumen (pure white of egg l. 

On dilute Albumen (such as either the 
white of 1 egg in 1 oz. of water, or blood 




Coagulation in 24 hours. 

Coagulation in 1 hour ; coagulum 
white and soft 

Coagulation in 10 minutes ; coagu- 
lum becomes of a pale-yellow color 
in 24 hours. 

Coagulation immediate; coagulum 
becomes of a full yellow tint in 
10 minutes. 

Coagulation immediate; coagulum 
a deep-yellow mass, dissolving in 
excess of acid with slight effer- 
vescence, but reprecipilated on 
dilution with water. 

No action. 

Action exceedingly slight after 24 

Coagulation ; coagulum white. 

Coagulation immediate ; coagulum 

Coagulation immediate ; the pre- 
cipitated albumen yellow. 

The Nitrates. — All the neutral salts are soluble in water. No test agent 
except albumen furnishes au insoluble precipitate. The crystals of nitrate 
of potash are long sis-sided prisms, and those of nitrate of soda rhombic 

The nitrates deflagrate either when heated on platinum-foil with pow- 
dered charcoal, or when a crystal of the salt is thrown upon a hot cinder. 
A piece of filtering-paper soaked in a solution of a nitrate, and dried, 
burns like touch-paper. 

Symptoms of Poisoning, Dose, etc. 

In addition to the general symptoms produced by the mineral acids, 
already described under sulphuric acid, we would note that the vomit in 
nitric acid poisoning will generally be found loaded with shreds of mem- 
brane having a citron-yellow color. The mucous membrane of the mouth 
at first may appear white (that is, if the acid swallowed be somewhat di- 
lute), but it soon becomes of a bright-yellow tint, which afterwards changes 
to a brownish-yellow. A rash has been noticed in cases where the patient 
has survived a week. Sometimes stupor precedes death, but the mind 
generally is clear to the last. Death may result from secondary causes at 
a considerably later period. 

Two drachms are said to have proved fatal to a boy aged thirteen, but 
recovery is iu two cases recorded after half an ounce of the acid. 

Death has been said to have occurred almost immediately, but it is as a 
rule delayed for several hours and days, or even longer. 

Post-tnortem Appearances. 

We have little to add to what has been already said respecting the post- 
mortem appearances after poisoning by sulphuric acid. The mouth, and 
any spots on the skiu where the acid has been spilt, will appear of a yel- 
low color. Bromine and iodiue also produce yellow staius, but the color 
may in these cases be easily discharged by touching them with a solution 
of caustic potash, whilst the nitric acid stains, which are due to the pro- 
duction of xantho-proteic acid, are exceedingly permanent, and would be 
intensified rather than bleached by the action of the caustic alkali. The 



Fig. 24. 

bladder is usually empty — the Wood dark and thick. The stomach will 
probably be found in an exceedingly pulpy state, and perhaps perforated, 
the edges of the perforation having a yellow color. Dr. Taylor remarks 
that in poisoning rabbits with the acid he has never found perforation. 
The action of the acid is seldom well-marked beyond the duodenum, by 
which time the corrosive properties of the poison will probably be destroyed. 


1. Taste. — Verv acid. This is well marked when the solution contains 
only 0.3 per cent, of free acid. 

2. Reddeus litmus when the solution contains 0.2 per cent. 

3. Nitric acid is completely volatilized by heat. 

4. Copper Ted. — Red fumes are given off when the acid is treated with 
a slip of copper-foil, a deep blue-colored liquid being produced. These 
fumes may be known as follows: 

(o) They turn a solution of green sulphate of iron of a brown color 
when passed through it. (An apparatus such as is represented 
in Fig. 24 may be used.) 

(,S) They redden, but do not bleach, litmus. 

(j) They turn a mixture of starch and iodide of potassium blue, by 
setting free iodine. 

Similar reactions may be obtained with the nitrates, but it is necessary 
to set the nitric acid free by first adding a little 
sulphuric acid. 

5. Protosu/phate of Iron. — A strong solution 
of this salt is changed by nitric acid to a dark- 
brown, which color disappears on the applica- 
tion of heat. In a dilute solution of free acid, 
pour the iron solution so that it may float upon 
the acid, when an olive-brown line will be ap- 
parent where the two solutions meet. With a 
/tit rate, add first of all a little sulphuric acid, 
and when the mixture is perfectly cold, float the 
iron solution as already advised. The use of 
the iron-salt in solution is preferable to its use 
as a crystal in testing. '^C '■'*- s 

6. Indigo Test (Liebig). — A solution of nitric 

acid, or of a nitrate, is to be mixed with about half its bulk of sulphuric 
acid, colored with a little indigo. In most cases the blue color is imme- 
diately discharged, otherwise the bleaching effect will be manifest on the 
addition of heat. 

This test should not be trusted to in the case of organic solutions. 

7. Gold Test. — In testing strong nitric acid, boil a little gold-leaf in the 
acid, when no action on the gold will be observed ; add to this a little 
hydrochloric acid, in which a small piece of gold-leaf has also been boiled, 
to prove its freedom of action on the metal. The gold-leaf will be found 
to dissolve freely in the mixed acids. In testing a nitrate, boil the gold- 
leaf first in hydrochloric acid, in which it should remain undissolved, and 
then add the nitrate, when solution will result. That the solution of the 
gold has been effected will be known by the production of a purple tint 
on adding protochloride of tin to the solution. We do not recommend 
this test. 

8. Morphia (O'Shaugnessy, 1829) produces with nitric acid a deep red, 
chaugiug to orange. 

9. Brucia (Berthemont, 1841). A nitric acid solution, or a solution of 



a nitrate mixed with about half its bulk of oil of vitriol, produces a car- 
mine-tinted solution on the addition of a trace of brucia. This reaction 
is very delicate. 

10. Nitric acid may be known— 

(a) From hydrochloric acid, by giving no precipitate with a silver 

(,?) From sulphuric acid, by giving no precipitate with a barium 
salt, and by its not charring paper. 
Iodide of Potassium (Mr. Higgin, "Pharm. Jour.," 1850, p. 84), and 
narcotin (Mialhe), etc., have been proposed as tests. They are not, we 
consider, of sufficient importance to demand a more detailed notice here. 

Further, all the nitrates, except the albumen compound, are soluble in 
water, are crystalline, and deflagrate when heated on charcoal. 

Having stated these several reactions with different tests, there are cer- 
tain fallacies it is necessary to guard against. 

1. Sulphuric acid often contains nitric acid. 

2. The chlorates, bromates, and iodates act like nitrates, and especially 
with regard to the reactions of morphia and brucia. Fortunately these 
are uncommon bodies, and not likely to be sources of error to the toxicol- 
ogist. In the case of a chlorate, it will be known by sulphuric acid turn- 
ing it a blood-red color, which afterwards becomes yellowish-green, an 
odor of chlorine being evolved. With an iodate or bromate, sulphuric 
acid decomposes it, and liberates bromine or iodine. 

Estimation of Nitric Acid. 

1. With a pure solution of free, nitric acid take the specific gravity of 
the liquid, and refer to the table (page 254) for the percentage of acid 

2. Pour a given quantity of acid (sp. gr. 1020) on a weighed quantity 
of well-dried powdered marble, and allow it to act for twenty-four hours. 
Evaporate the solution down to half its bulk. Filter, dry, and weigh the 
undissolved marble. Every 100 grains of the marble dissolved represents 
108 grains of N 2 O s - 

3. Free nitric acid in solution may be estimated by saturating it with 
recently ignited carbonate of soda, every 53 grains of which will neutralize 
54 grains of N 2 5 . 

4. But the solutions may contain other acids beside nitric acid. Other 
processes must then be adopted, which will be found in detail in chemical 

Supposing no other acid be present but sulphuric acid, add an excess 
of baryta water, and evaporate to dryness. Treat the residue with water, 
and filter the solution. (The BaS0 4 is insoluble, and the remaining 
baryta over and above that which is combined with the nitric acid, will, 
during evaporation, become changed into an insoluble carbonate.) Treat 
the solution with an excess of dilute sulphuric acid ; collect the BaS0 4 , 
wash, dry, and weigh. Every 100 parts of BaS0 4 = about 77.2 parts of 
HN0 3 sp. gr. 1424. 

Toxicological Analysis. 

(A) In conducting a toxicological investigation, test first of all the 
reaction of the organic liquid, remembering at the same time that anti- 
dotes may have removed all acidity, and even rendered it alkaline. If 
not already so, render the liquid alkaline with bicarbonate of potash, 
haviug diluted it sufficiently so that it may filter easily. Now boil, filter 
through fine muslin, and evaporate the strained portion to dryness on a 
water-bath. Drench the residue with strong alcohol, in order to dissolve 







out the chlorides, sugar, etc., and test the undissolved portion for nitrates 
as already directed. 

The uriue should always, ff possible, be examined. Normally it con- 
tains no nitrates, excepting, as Bence Jones pointed out, when ammonia 
or its salts have been taken. (" Medical Times," August, 1851, p. 220.) 

(B) In examining the tissues it is to be noted that the compound of 
nitric acid with albumen is insoluble, and that therefore the acid will 
most likely be found in the stomach. 

(a) If the tissues be acid to litmus, proceed as follows: 

Make a mixture of equal parts of water and sulphuric acid, and 

put twenty or thirty drops of the mixture into four test-tubes. 
To (1) add a little brucia ; no change should result Add now a 

little piece of the tissue to be examined, when the solution, if 

nitric acid be present, will turn a blood-red color. 
To (2) add a trace of sulphiudigotic acid; no action should result. 

Add now a piece of the tissue, when the blue color, if nitric acid 

be present, will disappear. 
To (3 ) add a grain or two of copper filings and a piece of the tissue 

to be examined, and boil. The evolved vapors will, if nitric 

acid be present, give a blue color to a piece of white paper 

moistened with a little starch and iodide of potassium solution. 
To (4) add a solution of sulphate of iron. On adding a piece of 

the tissue, the solution will become of an olive-brown color if 

nitric acid be present. 
(,5) If the tissues be not acid to litmus, boil them first with strong 
potash in order to break them up. Acidify with stroug sulphuric 
acid, and test as above. 

(C) Stains of nitric acid on articles of clothing appear yellow upon 
animal fabrics, and red upon articles dyed with vegetable colors. The 
stained cloth must be boiled in a little water, and the solution tested. 

It has been stated that when the acid is placed on fabrics it is soon lost 
because of its volatility. This is a mistake. Dr. Lethebyhas found it on 
different fabrics after a lapse of five months. 

Lastly. In every case when you are testing for nitric acid, endeavor 
to obtain the characteristic crystals of nitrate of potash. 

Cases of Poisoning by Nitric Acid. 

CASE 1.—" Lancet," April 16, 1ST0, p. 549 (Mr. E. Adams). Male: set. 21. Sss. of strong acid. 

Symptoms. — No whitening or yellow tint about gums or mouth; great agony and vomiting of 
bloody fluid; constriction of oesophagus lasting for some time. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 2. — "Guy's Hospital Reports," vol. xvii, p. 223 (Dr. Stevenson). Siijof acid. 

Result.— Death in seventeen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach perforated ; ulceration of colon. 

CASE 3.— "British Medical Journal," January 1, 1S70, p. 7. Female; set. 35. A quantity (?) 

Symptoms. — Acute gastritis continued fur several weeks, rapid emaciation and exfoliation of the 
mucous membrane taking place; was kept alive entirely by nutritive injections. 

Result. — Recovery partial. 

CASE 4.—" Lancet," May 8, 1847, p. 489 (Mr. Tomkins). Female : set. 26. Sss. of nitric acid. (She 
bad previously been drinking.) 

Symptoms. — Vomiting ; lips swollen and stained yellow ; spasmodic closure of jaws. Recovery in 
a week. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 5.— "Lancet," November 24, 1860, p. 509 (Dr. Budd and Dr. Sansom). Male: set. 36. 1 oi. 
of acid. 

Symptoms.— Immediate symptoms; got better from time to time. 

Result. — Death in six months. 

Post-mortem. — From mouth to stomach the tissues were puckered, constricted, and indurated; 
larynx uninjured. Death occurred from extreme irritability of the stomach. 


CASE 6.— "Medical Times," August 15, 1S46, p. 3S3 (Professor Puchett). Male. 3ij on full 

Symptoms.— Immediate pain and vomiting; severe symptoms. On the twenty-second day the 
membranes of the stonm-b were entirely discharged, and in sixty-six hours after this he died. 

IbsrtU. — Death on the twenty-fifth day. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach perforated. 

For other Cases of Poisoning by Nitric Acid: 
"British Medical Journal." April 30, 1ST0, p. 445. (Death. Acid taken for gin.) 
Schmidt's "Jahrb.," vol. civ, p. 7. 
"Glasgow Medical Journal," 1S72, p. 221. 
" Medical Gazette," vol. xii, p. 220. 
"Medical GazeLte," March, 1830. 


(Spirits of Salt. Chlorhydric Acid, Muriatic Acid, Marine Acid.) 

Cases of poisoning with the liquid acid are comparatively rare, but the 
evil effects produced by the escape of hydrochloric acid gas are a frequent 
subject of litigation. The hydrochloric acid of commerce is merely a solu- 
tion of the gas in water. 


The gas may be prepared in one or other of the following ways : 

(1) By mixing together common salt, sulphuric acid, and water, when 
hydrochloric acid gas is given off, sulphate of sodium remainiug behind. 

NaCl + H 2 S0 4 — HNaSO, + HC1. 

(2 s ) By mixing hydrogen and chlorine together in equal volumes. The 
combination of the gases may be effected either by heat or by exposure to 
sunlight. No condensation results when the gases combine. 

(3) By the action of chlorine on sulphuretted hydrogen. 

H,S+C1 2 = 2HC1 + S. 

The gas must be collected by displacement or over mercury, because of 
its solubility in water. 


It is important to make ourselves fully acquainted with the general prop- 
erties and physiological action of hydrochloric acid gas, inasmuch as law- 
suits (as we have already remarked) often result from the gas having been 
allowed to escape into the air in the course of the several manufacturing 
processes during which it is evolved. 

Physical Properties. — The gas is colorless, and about one-fourth heavier 
than the atmosphere (sp. gr. 1.257). Liberated, therefore, in the open 
air. it has a tendency to descend. It can be liquefied by a vjressure of 40 
atmospheres at 10°"C. (50 3 F.). 

Chemical Properties. — The solubility of the gas in water is very great. 
At a temperature of 4.4° C. (40° Fahr.), water absorbs 480 times its 
volume. The application of heat to the aqueous solution expels the gas. 
When it escapes into moist air, white fumes are produced, which result 
from the combination of the acid gas with the moisture of the atmosphere, 
the water being condensed into liquid globules, which slowly evaporate. 
If ammonia gas be allowed to escape into an atmosphere containing only 
0.01 per cent, of hydrochloric acid gas, white fumes will be immediately 
perceived. A drop of a solution of nitrate of silver is rendered perceptibly 
white when exposed to an atmosphere containing not more than one part 
of the gas in 200,000 parts of air. Litmus-paper is distinctly reddened by 
an atmosphere of one part of the acid gas in 10,000 parts of air. The gas 
is neither combustible nor a supporter of combustion. The flame of a taper 


is visibly affected by an atmosphere containing only two per cent, of the 
L r :is. \vliil>i it is extinguished when it constitutes a sixth part of the whole. 
Many of the common metals are slowly attacked by it. 

Physiological Properties. — Its action is that of a powerful irritant, pro- 
ducing spasm of the glottis, and a feeling of intense and immediate suffo- 
cation. When the gas is even diluted with 1000 times its bulk of air, it 
produces extreme irritation of the lungs ami violent fits of coughing. The 
conjunctival membrane is usually much affected, and intense pain in the 
eyes, with a copious secretion of tears, produced. It occasions, moreover, 
extreme irritation of the skin. But the physiological action of the gas 
will be perfectlv apparent even when the dilution is as great as one part 
in 10,000 of air". 

If a mouse or a sparrow be put into the pure gas, it will be found to gasp 
and stniL r L. r le vehemently for about two minutes, and then to fall down 
dead. We have found small animals die in about three or four hours when 
the gas is diluted with 1500 times its volume of air, convulsions, with 
laborious and quickened respiration, being the chief symptoms observed. 
But plants are infinitely more sensitive to the action of the gas than 
animals. We have found that if a geranium be introduced into an atmos- 
phere containing only one part of the gas in 25,000 parts of air, it will 
begin to droop and wither within one hour. 

Nuisances arising from the Escape of the Gas. 

The various trade operations in which muriatic acid gas is set free 
deserve mention. 

(1) The extraction of the copper (2 to 4 per cent.) from the pyrites, after 
it has been used by the sulphuric acid maker, is effected by mixing the 
crushed pyrites with common salt (3 cwt. to a ton of pyrites), and then 
roasting the mixture in a reverberatory furnace. A small quantity of sul- 
phurous acid and enormous quantities of hydrochloric acid gas are thus 
generated, which have too often been allowed to escape freely into the 

(2) In the manufacture of common bottle glass, as well as in the process of 
glazing the commoner kinds of pottery, silica and common salt are fused 
together, immense volumes of hydrochloric acid gas being thereby gener- 
ated. The alkali of the common salt combines with the fixed acid, form- 
ing a fusible elass or glaze, whilst the volatile acid escapes. 

(3) In bri'1; and cement burning considerable quantities of the acid gas 
are generated. In brick burning it is derived from the cinders (breeze) 
which are charged with salt from house dust-bins, whilst in cement burning 
it is derived from the mud of tidal rivers, from which mud cement is made 
bv admixture with chalk. 

(4) Lastly and specially, " alkali works " have until lately proved serious 
nuisances on account of the large quantities of hydrochloric acid gas set 
free from them. The Act of 1863 compelled the alkali manufacturers to 
condense 95 per cent, of the gas that might be produced from the whole 
of the materials used, whilst a later act further limits the amount to one- 
fifth of a grain of the gas per cubic foot of the air leaving the works. 
Other manufactures by the Act of 1874 are now included under the Alkali 
Act of 1863. 

In alkali works, and in other manufactories, such as those of the potter 
and cement maker, the use of proper coke towers or scrubbers is gener- 
ally adopted for the purpose of condensing the fumes. In the case of the 
brickmaker, the cinders or breeze used should be coke breeze, or if "house- 
hold breeze" be employed, it should previously be well washed, either by 
exposure to rain, or in some other way, to get rid of the common salt with 
which it may be mixed. 



Liquid Hydrochloric Acid. — Properties. 

When pure it is colorless, the color of the ordinary commercial acid be- 
ing due to impurities. A table showing the percentage strength of the 
acid compared with its density t^aken from Dr. Attfield's " Chemistry ") 
we give in detail. 

Table of the Quantity of Hydrochloric Acid in the Liquid Acid of different 
Specific Gravities. (Ure.) 


Acid of 1.2 in 



Acid of 1.2 in 




Acid Gas. 



Acid Gas. 






19 980 







1 1964 


39 961 

1 0939 


19 165 




1 0919 


18 757 






18 340 




1 0879 






1 0859 






1 0838 

















36 700 















15 087 



35 476 




1 1741 









1 0677 


13 863 









33 845 

1 0637 









1 1641 



1 0597 












1 0557 



1.1578 B. P. 


31 805 







1 0517 











30 582 





















8 729 
























7 141 



27 321 



















1 0279 




















4 365 

1 1206 



1 0200 


3 998 
























2 :>1 




































Hydrochloric acid boils at different temperatures, the boiling-point be- 
ing dependent on its strength. Dr. Dalton's table, however, shows that 

both weaker and stronger acids boil at a lower temperature than that hav- 
ing a gravity of 1094. The liquid acid freezes at about — 51.11° C. ( — 60° 

Dulton's Table of the Boiling-Points of Liquid Hydrochloric Acid. 



Speci fie 







Fahr. Cent. 







228 ! 108.88 



103 88 

1 1 54 



Id! 14 

532 111.11 



102 22 



Kill no 


228 108.88 




1 1 36 




225 107 22 





222 105.55 

Chemical Properties of the Liquid Acid. 

1. Its Affinity for Water.— The elevation of temperature resulting from 
the admixture of the acid with water is not great, but its affinity for water 
is well marked by the solution fuming in the air, even when it does not 
contain more than 20 per cent, of free acid. 

2. The action of ammonia ou the liquid acid is manifest when the solu- 
tion only contains 8 per cent, of free acid. 

3. The reddening of litmus is marked when the solution only contains 
0.012 per cent, of free acid. 

4. The action of the acid on earthy carbonates takes place when the solu- 
tion contains 2 p3r cent, of free acid (sp. gr. 1010), but by the application 
of heat slight effervescence will be manifest when the liquid only contains 
0.05 per cent, of free acid. 

5. The action on metals is in some cases energetic. With zinc this will 
be apparent with a solution containing not more than from 0.5 to 0.8 per 
cent, of acid. With iron a 1.5 per cent., and with tin a 4.0 per cent, acid 
solution is needed, whilst with other metals, such as copper, bismuth, lead, 
antimony, arsenic, and mercury, the action is less energetic, and consider- 
ably slower. The metals attract the chlorine, and set free the hydrogen of 
the acid. 

6. Action on Metallic Oxides. — Upon low oxides a chloride merely is 
formed, whilst on high oxides, such as plumbic dioxide (Pb0 2 ), manga- 
nesium peroxide (MnO,), or chromic trioxide (Cr0 3 ), chlorine is set free 
as well. 

7. Its action on high oxygen adds, such as nitric, chloric, bromic, and 
iodic acids, etc., is peculiar, chlorine being set free. 

8. Hydrochloric acid takes away the color from ordinary writing ink, on 
account of its affinity for the iron of the compound. A solution contain- 
ing only 0.4 per cent, of acid discharges the color. The iron is in this 
way removed, whilst the reddish-brown stain of galls is merely left, and 
may be got rid of with a little chlorine water. A weaker acid than this, 
however, will act if time be allowed. 

9. The action on organic bodif-< : 

(a) On Cane-sugar. — Cane-sugar is instantly converted in the cold 
into grape-sugar by an acid having a sp. gr. 1200. If heat be 
applied, ulraic and sacehulmic acids are formed. 

(,?) Other vegetable substances, such as wood, etc., are discolored. 


(y) On Albumen Solutions. — These are coagulated by acids with a sp. 
gr. over 1015. The action begins in about a quarter of an hour, 
and is complete in one hour. An acid solution containing less 
than 3 per cent, has no action. 

(5) On Dead Mucous Membrane, as, e.g., the interior of the stomach. — ■ 
The strong acid instantly whitens it, and produces in a few min- 
utes a gangrenous greenish spot. A solution containing 0.5 per 
cent, of free acid takes about a quarter of an hour to act. The 
acid has a most remarkable solutive power on animal substances, 
an action considerably aided by heat. Liebig states that the 
fibrin of flesh differs from the fibrin of blood, not merely in 
that the former contains less nitrogen, but that it is soluble in 
dilute hydrochloric acid, blood fibrin being insoluble, and 
merely swelling up when subjected to the action of the acid. 
("Chemical Gazette," 1850, p. 170.) 

Lastly, we may note hydrochloric acid has some antiseptic properties, 
although they are not remarkable for their intensity. 

The chlorides are generally white, and soluble in water, excepting those 
of silver, lead, and the subsalt of mercury (Hg 2 Cl 2 ). 

Hydrochloric acid gas is produced when a soluble chloride is heated 
with dilute sulphuric acid. 


1. Sulphurous acid, derived from the deoxidation of the sulphuric acid, 
either by the organic matter of the salt or by the metal of the still. 
The commercial acid may contain as much as 11 per cent, of sulphurous 
acid (Savory). The presence of sulphurous acid may be known as 
follows : 

(a) Treat some of the acid in a test-glass with a rather large quan- 

tity of protochloride of tin (or metallic tin may be used); cover 
the glass over with a piece of filter-paper moistened at one spot 
with acetate of lead. If sulphuretted hydrogen be generated 
(which will be known by its blackening the lead-paper), it indi- 
cates the presence of sulphurous acid (Wockenroder). This 
test is very delicate. 

(b) Dilute the acid with water ; add to the solution pure granulated 

zinc, and pass the gas generated through a solution of acetate 
of lead, which will be blackened if sulphurous acid be present. 
The nascent hydrogen reduces the sulphurous acid, and combines 
with the sulphur to form H 2 S. (Fordos and Gelis.) 
(e) To estimate the quantity of sulphurous acid present, precipitate 
the sulphuric acid with an excess of chloride of barium; filter, 
and boil the clear filtrate with its own bulk of nitric acid. 
Any fresh sulphate of baryta now precipitated corresponds to 
sulphurous acid. A little fresh baryta solution should after- 
wards be added, so as to make certain that the whole is precipi- 

2. Sulphuric acid may be known by a soluble salt of baryta pro- 
ducing a white precipitate. 

3. Free chlorine, which imparts a greenish-yellow tint to the acid solu- 
tion, may be known — 

1. By the odor. 

2. By the solution dissolving a little piece of gold-leaf. 

3. By its bleaching a solution of indigo. 

4. By its precipitating the sulphur from a solution of sulphuretted 

hyd rogen. 


4. Iodine and bromine are sometimes present, and are derived from im- 
purities in the common salt. 

•"). Chloride of arsenic, derived from the sulphuric acid, may be known 
either by the evolution of arseniuretted hydrogen, or by Reinsch's test. 
S Arsenic.) 

li. Chloride of tin (mentioned by Gmelin) will be precipitated as a 
yellow precipitate, by passing sulphuretted hydrogen through the acid, 
the precipitate gradually becoming of a brown color. 

7. Chloride of lead (Vogel) may be present, aud will be derived from 
the lead in the sulphuric acid, as well as possibly from other causes. 

8. Ch/oride of iron (Rose and Graham') may be recognized by neutral- 
izing the acid with carbonate of soda, and adding tincture of galls or 
potassic ferrocyauide. With the former a violet, and with the latter a 
blue precipitate will be obtained. 

9. Other chloride* and metallic substances may by recognized by evapo- 
rating the acid to dryness, and examining the residue. 

10. Organic Matter. — This is often the cause of the dark color of the 
acid. It may be known by evaporating the acid to dryness, and noting 
whether the residue becomes charred by a continued application of heat. 

Preparation of Pure Hydrochloric Acid. 

It will at all times be found easier to make a pure acid than to purify a 
bad one. . The following two methods of preparing pure hydrochloric acid 
are recommended : 

(a) Dilute one pint of good sulphuric acid with six pints of water in a 
glass vessel, and pass a stream of well-washed sulphuretted hydrogen 
through the mixture for some hours. After doing so allow it to stand un- 
disturbed for five or six days. When the precipitate formed has thoroughly 
settled, siphon off the supernatant acid, and after adding a teaspoouful of 
common salt, put the acid into a retort and concentrate by heat to the 
original bulk. 

Fill a large retort half full of good salt, and add to it the sulphuric acid 
thus prepared. The retort must have fitted to it a piece of bent glass tube, 
of such a length and shape that the end may pass into a Winchester pint 
bottle half full of pure distilled water, the end of the tube dipping about 
yth of an inch under the water. The bottle must be fitted with a cork 
aud a second tube connected with the second bottle of water, so arranged 
as to convey any unabsorbed acid vapor that escapes from the water of 
the first bottle into the water of the second. The acid thus obtained 
will generally be found pure, but should always be carefully tested be- 
fore using, both by passing sulphuretted hydrogen through it, as well as 
by boiling with copper, the purity of which has been already proved by 

Another method is the following : 

(,5) Take an acid having a density between 1115 and 1164. 

Add to it a little pure protochloride of tin in hydrochloric acid, aud let 
the acid stand for several days in a well-stoppered bottle. The arsenic is 
thrown down in a metallic form, mixed with a little tin. Siphon off the 
clear liquid and distil, rejecting the first tenth as being liable to contain a 
little arsenic. The rest is absolutely free from it. 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

We have very little to add to what has been already said respecting the 
symptoms of poisoning by sulphuric acid, excepting in one particular. 
Just as ammonia is a volatile alkali, and so produces more active laryngeal 


symptoms than potash or soda, so hydrochloric acid, being a volatile acid, 
will be found more liable to set up intense laryngeal symptoms than the 
other mineral acids. 

In poisoning by hydrochloric acid the tongue and throat at first appear 
white, but gradually become discolored and rotten. 

Death has occurred in as short a time as two hours. 

Recovery is not common. 

One drachm has proved fatal to a girl aged 15. 

(For treatment and post-mortem appearances, see Sulphuric Acid.) 

We may observe here that some attention has been directed to the 
presence of notable quantities of arsenic in the acid of commerce, from 
the fact that certain injurious results are said to have occurred from the 
use of the common acid mixed with carbonate of soda in lieu of yeast, for 
making a light, and, as it is termed, digestible unfermented bread. The 
amount of the acid used for this purpose is, of course, very small, and the 
amount of arsenic consequently present in the acid, to do harm, must be 
very large. Still, we are aware that very small doses of arsenic, con- 
stantly repeated, have in some cases produced startling results. ( Vide 
" Monthly Journal," 1850, p. 288.) 


1. Odor. — Not perceptible in solutions containing less than 8 per cent. 

2. Taste. — Very acid, perceptible when the solution contains' 0.05 per 

3. Action on Litmiis. — Perceptible in a solution containing 0.002 per 

4. The pure concentrated acid leaves no residue when evaporated to 

5. Acetate of lead gives a white precipitate (PbCl) when the solution 
contains above 2 per cent. The precipitate is almost iusoluble in dilute 
nitric acid, but is somewhat soluble in boiling water, from which crystals 
may be obtained. 

(A white precipitate is also produced by acetate of lead with several 
other acids.) 

6. Mercurous nitrate gives a white precipitate of calomel (Hg. 2 Cl 2 ), in- 
soluble in nitric acid. This reaction may be observed if the solution only 
contains 0.006 per cent, of acid. 

7. Nitrate of silver gives a white curdy precipitate, either with the free 
acid or with its soluble compounds. The precipitate acquires a purple 
color on exposure to light. It is insoluble in boiling nitric acid, but is 
very soluble either in ammonia solution, or cyanide of potassium, or in 
hyposulphite of soda. Collected and fused the mass becomes horny. 
The yjjgth of a grain of HC1 can be thus detected. 

(Note. — Hydrocyanic acid also forms a white curdy precipitate with 
nitrate of silver, the precipitate being insoluble in cold nitric acid, but 
soluble to an extent in ammonia, and in nitric acid when boiled. But 
when the cyanide of silver is heated in a tube, cyanogen gas, which is 
inflammable, is given off, which property at once serves to distinguish it 
from the chloride.) 

8. Heat a liquid containing free hydrochloric acid with peroxide of 
manganese (Mn0 2 ), when chlorine will be evolved, which may be known 
(a) by its greenish-yellow color ; (b) by its bleaching litmus ; and (c) by 
its giving a blue color to a piece of paper moistened with starch and 
potassic iodide. 


Quantitative Estimation. 

(1) If it be pure acid, take the gravity, and refer to the table (page 
254) for the strength. 

(2) If the add be present as free acid only — 

(a) The solution may be carefully neutralized with pure ignited car- 

bouate of soda. 
Every 53 grains of the carbonate used corresponds to 37 grains of 

dry hydrochloric acid — 
(,j) Or act with a given quantity of the acid solution on a given 
weight of dry powdered marble. When the action has ceased, 
carefully collect the undissolved marble, dry, and weigh. 
Every 50 grains of the marble dissolved corresponds to 37 of dry 
hydrochloric acid. 

(3) If the acid be present both in a free and a combined state, precipitate 
the acid with nitrate of silver solution rendered acid with nitric acid. 
Collect the precipitate, dry, and carefully fuse. 

100 grains of chloride of silver =■ 24.74 of anhydrous hydrochloric acid. 

= 77.80 parts of acid, sp. gr. 1.15. 

(4) To estimate separately the free and the combined acid, carefully, and 
at as low a temperature as possible, distil over about two-thirds of the 
solution under examination. Estimate the chlorine in both distillate and 
residuum. The former corresponds to the free, and the latter to the com- 
bined acid. 

Toxicological Analysis. 

In conducting a toxicological inquiry, note (1) if the organic liquid be 
acid; (2) if it contains sulphuric acid or a sulphate; (3) if it evolves a 
vapor that whitens nitrate of silver (hydrocyanic acid). 

Distil the liquid portion in a retort nearly to dryness, inasmuch as 
animal substances retain hydrochloric acid with great tenacity. The 
distillate must then be acidulated with nitric acid, and precipitated with 
nitrate of silver for free acid. 

Several sources of fallacy must be guarded against in the distillation. 

1. The evolution of a volatile chloride (such as chloride of ammonium), 
which is not unlikely to be present in animal fluids. 

The use of a chloride of calcium bath for the distillation, as suggested 
by Christison, would prevent the temperature rising above 115.55° C. 
(240° P.). This source of error would thus be obviated, inasmuch as chlo- 
ride of ammonium is not volatile at this heat. 

2. It is stated that the gastric fluid naturally contains free hydrochloric 
acid. — On the one hand Prout, Children, Berzelius, Gmelin, Tiedemann, 
Dunglison, and Liebig assert its presence. On the other hand, Hunefeld, 
Blondlet, Barreswill, Bernard, and Lehmann, assert the contrary, explain- 
ing that the reactions obtained by the other chemists in distilling the gastric 
fluid, are due to the decomposition of a soluble chloride by a more fixed 
organic acid, such as lactic acid. Admitting, however (and for toxicologi- 
cal purposes it is safer to admit it), that this may prove a possible fallacy, 
it is worth remembering that the largest amount of hydrochloric acid 
obtained by the various chemists does not exceed the ■sVoo'-' 1 P* 1 "' °^ tne 
weight of the materials operated upon. 

The urine should always be examined in cases of suspected poisoning by 
hydrochloric acid. Orfila's experiments are of great interest. In nine 


healthy dogs, the urine of which he examined, the following were the re- 
sults : In two cases the precipitate of chloride of silver obtained was 
equal to 0.332 per cent, of the urine; in three cases it was equal to 0.462 
per cent. ; and in four cases it was equal to 0.276 per cent. 

Further, to two dogs he gave 185.25 grains of the acid, when the chloride 
of silver obtained from the urine was equal to 2.66 per cent., whilst in 
three other cases where 123.5 grains of acid had been administered, the 
chloride of silver obtained was equal to 1.96 per cent. 

Orfila's experiments prove — 

(1) That the urine contains normally a variable proportion of alkaline 

(2) That the quantity present in excess of what is normal is proved to 
be in direct proportion to the amount of the acid swallowed. 

(3,i That in disease the quantity of chlorides present is usually small, 
because generally but little food is taken. 

4 That the largest amount of soluble chlorides found in healthv urine 
is 12 per cent, of the solid extract, whilst 10 per cent, may be regarded as 
the average. 

(5) That if the quantity of acid found in the urine in a case of suspected 
poisoning be in excess of this amount, it constitutes important confirma- 
tory evidence. 

Lastly, dialysis may be resorted to for the purpose of extracting the acid 
from organic liquids. 

The stains produced by the acid on black cloth are red, but are nothing 
like so intense in color as those produced by sulphuric acid. They disap- 
pear in the course of time, on account of the volatility of the acid. For 
the detection of the acid in stains, it is merely necessary to boil a given 
■weight of the stained cloth in water, and precipitate the filtered solution 
with nitrate of silver, testing a similar quantity of the unstained portion 
for purposes of comparison. 

Cases of Poisoning by Hydrochloric Acid. 

CASE 1.— " Lancet." July 16, 1S59, p. 59. Female: <et. 63. Sss. 

Symptoms. — Immediate. 

Result. — Death in eighteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Mouth and throat white; no perforation of the stomach. 

CASE 2.—" Lancet," July 27, 1S50, p. 113 (Dr. David Price). Male : a?t. 30. About Sj. 

Symptoms. — Almost immediate ptyalism; hiccough; motions very black ; pain very severe ; (stom- 
ach-pump used). Recovery in nine days. 

Rest/It. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.— "Lancet," March 7, 1840, p. 899 (Mr. Crawford). Female: a;t. 40. A mixture of Sj of 
acid with sj of " tincture of steel," and ajso said to contain some corrosive sublimate. This, however, 
is doubtful. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting, but no pain or heat in mouth, throat, or epigastrium ; no thirst. Death in 
five hours and a half. 

Result. — Death in five hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Blood in heart black and fluid ; mucous membrane of stomach easily peeled off; no 
perforation ; lower parts of oesophagus appeared charred. 

CASE 4.—" British Medical Journal," March 4, 1S71, p. 221 (.Br. G. Johnson). Female : a?t. 15. 5j of 
hydrochloric acid. 

Symptoms. — No stains round the mouth ; mucous membrane of throat and mouth of a white or 
ash-gray color; great thirst, but no special pain or abdominal tenderness; rallied for a little while, 
but shortly afterwards became worse; tracheotomy had to be performed; epiglottis white, swollen, 
and corroded. Remained sensible; suffered very little pain. 

Result. — Death in ten hours. 

Post-mortem in ttrenly hours. — Mouth, fauces, pharynx, and oesophagus of an ash-gray color ; epi- 
thelium easily stripped off. when a red congested surface appeared underneath ; mucous mem- 
brane of the stomach black, but not destroyed; no perforations; cardiac end most injured, but no 
injury apparent beyond the pylorus. 


CASE 5.— " Medical Times and Gazette," July .".. 185$, p. in | Dr. Deutseh). From " Berlin Zeitung," 

Symptoms. — Fell to the ground immediately ; vomiting of a yellowish-green fluid ; convulsions. 

Result. — Death in two hours. 

Post-mortem.— Tongue and mouth unchanged in appearance; pharynx dark-brown; oesophagus nor- 
mal; muscular coat of stomach very firm, but congested, with black spot? in places. 

CASE 6.— " Medical Times," Oct. 9, 1S41, p. 15. Male: adult. Half a teacupful of a solution of tin 
in H< 1. 

Symptoms.— Pain, thirst, vomiting of thick glairy mucus. Delirium. 

Result.— Death on thethird day. 

Post-mortem.— CEsophagus somewhat inflamed, and Btomach violently so. a few inches only of the 
duodenum appeared congested. 

For other Cases of Poisoning by Hydrochloric Acid, see: 

" Bull. Gen. de Therap." Oct. 2'>. 1872, p. 364 (Dr. Paul. 
" Arch. d. Heilk.." 1872, p. 213 (Dr. Nagen. 
"Guy's Hospital Reports," Oct. 1S-50, p. 211. 
" Medical Gazette," Dec. 28, 1S49. 


Hydrofluoric acid is prepared by distilling fluor-spar (CaF^ with sul- 
phuric acid in a platinum vessel. It? chief use is for the purpose of glass- 
etching. Its action is intense when applied to the skin, cauterizing it with 
great rapidity, and producing a painful and slow-healing sore. 

Its action on glass constitutes its chief test. 

One case of death from half an ounce of the acid is recorded. The man 
only lived for thirty-five minutes. 

Cose of Poisoning wiih Hydrofluoric Acid. 

CASE 1.— " Lancet," February 5, 1873, p. 203 (Dr. King). Male : set. 46. 3ss. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and violent pain. Death. 

Result. — Death in thirty-five minutes. 

Post-mortem. — Blood acid; longs congested; mouth white, and the epithelium stripped off; parts 
of oesophagus whitened: parts of the coats of the stomach blackened and the stomach itself full of 
blackish fluid. No erosion. The epiglottis was denuded. 


Xitrosulphuric acid consists of a mixture of strong nitric acid and oil 
of vitriol. It is largely used in the fabrication of guu-cotton, and is con- 
sequently not uncommonly in the hands of the public. The usual propor- 
tions in which it is mixed for this purpose are two parts by measure of the 
strongest sulphuric acid (sp. gr. 18501, and one part of fuming nitric acid 
(sp. gr. 1150). 

It is a heavy colorless liquid. Its specific gravity is greater than the 
mean of the two acids used in its preparation. Dense white fumes are 
given off from it. 

A great rise of temperature is produced when the acid is mixed with 
water. It attracts moisture from the air, and also abstracts it from organic 
bodies with which it may be brought into contact. 

Ordinary metals, such as zinc, iron, and lead, are rapidly attacked either 
by the dilute acid, or by the strong acid when heated, but only very slowly 
by the concentrated acid in the cold. 

hur, phosphorus, iodine, etc., are rapidly acted upon by it. 

Organic bodies are attacked by it in some cases with great energy, deep 
red fumes being given off, whilst in other cases the action is very slow, 
compounds being formed that are more or less explosive. 

White cane-sugar is gradually dissolved by it, the liquid becoming brown, 
and the sugar after a time separating as a resinous solid. This Bubstance, 
when well washed in water, becomes a hard, silky, silver-colored body 


having a bitter taste. If heated it explodes like gunpowder, leaving a 
mere trace of ash. It is insoluble in cold water, but soluble in alcohol 
and ether. 

Manna forms with it an explosive body. It has been proposed that this 
compound should be used for percussion caps. 

Its action on glycerin is energetic at ordinary temperatures, whilst at a 
low temperature the glycerin is merely dissolved. On pouring this solu- 
tion into water a heavy oily liquid separates, which is sweet, pungent, and 
very poisonous (nitroglycerin, or glonoin [C 3 H 5 (N0 2 ) :i 3 ]). 

Starch forms with the acid a white explosive pulverulent solid. If any 
gluten be present, the mass turns of a yellow color. 

Cotton or linen cloth does not appear at first to be acted upon by the 
acid, but increases from 70 to 75 per cent, in weight, and becomes very 
explosive (Schoubeiu, 1846). The gases given off (in quantity about 1 
cub. in. for every 0.5 grain of the cloth acted upon), are very deleterious, 
and consist of carbonic oxide, carbonic acid, cyanogen, nitric oxide, etc., 
in the following proportions : 

Carbonic oxide, .... 35.7 per cent. 

Carbonic acid, .... 14.3 " 

Nitrogen, 7.2 " 

Nitric oxide, 35.7 " 

Cyanogen, 7.1 " =100.00. 

Wood tar, resinous matters, etc., acted on by the acid, turn a dark color, 
the washed residue being somewhat explosive. 

Most of the hydrocarbons are acted upon by it energetically, and most 
colors are discharged by it. 

Animal Substances. — Albumen is coagulated and turned yellow. Mucous 
membranes are first whitened, and then assume a yellow tint. Animal 
substances generally become a pulpy rotten mass when heated with it. 


They are those already described under the heads of the two acids. If 
the mixed acid be distilled the nitric acid will pass over first, and the 
sulphuric acid be left in the retort. 

In a case of poisoning you would discover after death the special char- 
acteristic appearances of nitric acid poisoning. The urine should be par- 
ticularly examined. 


This is usually made by mixing two or three parts of hydrochloric acid 
with one of nitric. 

The acid has generally a slightly yellow color, and fumes when exposed 
to the air. It has a suffocating odor, and either boils or is decomposed 
at a temperature a little below 100° Cent. It has a density the mean of 
the acids used in its preparation. 

It is not a very permanent body, the hydrogen of the one acid reacting 
on the oxygen of the other, by which means chlorine and nitrous acid are 
produced. In an open vessel this action goes on until one or other of the 
acids is entirely destroyed. It is a powerful oxidizing agent. 

Iodine, phosphorus, sulphur, and seleuium, and the metals generally, 
are rapidly oxidized by it. Vegetable substances are also rapidly attacked 
by the acid, and if the mixture be heated a product will be left, contain- 
ing oxalic acid. Albumen is coagulated and turned yellow by it. Animal 
matters are dissolved by the hot acid, red fumes being evolved. 


The tests for the acid, in addition to those already described under the 
heads of the separate acids, are — 

1. Its property of dissolving the noble metals. 

2. The evolution of chlorine and nitric oxide. 

It must be borne in mind, however, that if the acid has been long 
exposed to the air, or boiled in an open vessel, it may then lose both these 


(Sulphate of Indigo.) 

This is nothing more than indigo dissolved in sulphuric acid. The ex- 
istence of a blue vomit may point to arsenic having been administered, 
indigo being one of the substances required by law to be mixed with small 
quantities when sold retail. Still, occasional cases of poisoning by sulph- 
indigotic acid are said to have occurred. All the excretions will be found 
to be colored blue. The symptoms and treatment are similar to those 
already described under the head of sulphuric acid. 



Poisonous Plants and their Active Principles. 

1. AMARYLLIDACE.E.— Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus (Daffodil). 

2. AXACARDIACE.E.— Rhus Radicans. R. Toxicodendron. R. Vernix. 

3. APOCYXACE.E.— Xerium Oleander. 

4. AQUIFOLIACE2E.— Ilex Aquifolium (Holly). 

5. AROIDE-E. — Arum Maculatum (Cuckoo Pint). 

6. ARTOCARPACE.E — Upas Antiar. 

7. CAPRI FOLIACEJE.—Sambucus Nigra (Elder). S. Ebulus. Vibur- 

num Opulus (Guelder Rose). 

8. CIXCHOXACEiE. — Cephaelis Ipecacuanha (Ipecacuan). Cinchona 

barks. Quinine — Quinoidine. 

9. COMPOSITxE. — Artemisia Absinthium ( Wormwood). Caltha Palustris 

(Marsh Marigold). Lactuca Saliva (Lettuce). 

10. COXIFERJE. — Juniperus Sabina (Savin). Taxus Baccata (Yew). 

11. CONVOLV UIjACEjE. — Convolvulus Scammonea (Scammony). Exo- 

gonium Purga (Jalap). 

12. CORIARIACEJE. — Coriaria Myrtifolia (Myrtle-leaved Sumach). 

13. CUCURBTTACEJE. — Bryonia Dioica ( White Bryony). Cueumis 

Colocynthis (Colocynth). Ecbalium Officinarum (Elaterium). 

14. DIOSCOREACE^E.— Tamus Communis (Black Bryony). 

15. EUPHORBIACE.E.— Croton Tiglium. Euphorbia Officinarum 

(Spurge). Hippomane Mancinella. Jatropha C ureas (Physic Nut). 
Ricinus Communis (Castor Oil). 

16. FUXGALES. — Poisonous Fungi. Secale Cornutum (Ergot). 

17. GUTTIFERiE. — Garcinia Morella (Gamboge). 

18. GRAMINACE2E.— Lolium Temulentum (Bearded Darnel). 

19. LAURACE^E. — Camphora Officinarum. 


20. LEGUMINOSiE. — Arachis Hypogosa. Oytisus Laburnum (Labur- 

num). Physostigma Venenosum (Calabar or Ordeal Bean). 

21. LILIACEiE. — Aloe Vulgaris. Squilla Maritima {Squill). 

22. LOBELIACE.ffi.— Lobelia Inflate (Indian Tobacco). 

23. LOGANIACE..E. — Gelsemium Sempervirens ( Yellow Jasmine). Stryeh- 

nos Nux Vomica. 

24. MELANTHACEiE.— Asagrcea Officinalis. Colchicum Autumnale 

(Autumn Crocus). Veratrum Album. Veratrum Viride. 

25. MENISPERMACE^.— Menispermum Coceulus. 

26. OLEACEJC— Ligustrum Yulgure ( Privet ). 

27. PAP AVERAGE^.— Papaver Somniferum (Poppy). 

28. RANUNCULACEJE. — Aconitum NapeUus (Aconite, Monkshood). 

Anemone Pulsatilla, etc. Delphinium Staphisagria (Stavesacre). 
Helleborus Nigra (Christmas Rose). H. Foztidus, etc. Ranunculus 
Acris (Buttercup), etc. 

29. RUTACE.E.— Rata Graveolens (Rue). 

30. SCROPHULARIACE.SX— Digitalis Purpurea (Foxglove). 

31. SOLAN ACEiE. — Atropa Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade). Capsicum 

Fastigiatum ( Cayenne). Datura Stramonium (Thornapple). Hyoscy- 
amus Niger (Henbane). Nicotiaua Tabacum (Tobacco). Solan um 
Dulcamara (Woody Nightshade). Solanum Nigrum. Solatium 

32. THYMELACE^E— Daphne Mezereum (Mezereon), etc. 

33. UMBELLIFER^.— Mhurn Oynapium (Fool's Parsley). Cicuta 

Virosa (Water Hemlock). Conium Maculatum (Hemlock). CEnanthe 
Crocata (Dropwort). Phellandrium Aquatieum. 

Before proceediug to examine the several poisonous plants in detail, it 
may be well to state that in conducting a medico-legal inquiry in cases of 
poisoning by their agency, we should, having first of all strained off the 
liquid portions through a piece of muslin, carefully search in the solid con- 
tents of the stomach and intestines for any portions of stems, roots, leaves, 
flowers, fruit, and more particularly of seeds, and examine these for any 
special botanical characters they present, that may serve for the purpose 
of their identification. Such examination is best made by placing the 
solid materials on a white plate and by using a large hand magnifying- 
glass aud a scalpel. 

When this is done we should proceed to endeavor to extract the active 
principle of the plant from the contents of the stomach aud intestines. 

In most cases, and where we have given no special directions to the 
contrary, we recommend for this purpose the process we shall now describe: 
In a few cases it is either unsuitable or other processes are preferable. In 
certain investigations, such as an examination in a case of poisoning by 
morphia or strychnia, we have described the various methods suggested by 
various authorities. This was necessary from the more than usual im- 
portance of these and of some other alkaloids. 

Place the contents of the stomach and intestines in a clean wide-mouthed 
bottle, aud having rendered them acid with a few drops of acetic or hydro- 
chloric acid, treat th£m with a considerable quantity of alcohol and put 
them aside for some hours in a warm place, occasionally giving the bottle 
a shake. Filter the materials through thick blotting-paper, aud treat the 
filtrate with an excess of subacetate of lead (Goulard's Extract), and filter 
off the precipitate formed. 

Sulphuretted hydrogen must now be passed through the clear filtrate 
until the liquid shows by its action on lead-paper that complete saturation 
has been effected. In this way any excess of lead added will be thrown 


down and may be filtered off. Evaporate the clear filtrate to dryness and 
dissolve the residue in a few drops of water acidulated with acetic acid. 
It may be necessary to filter this. Supersaturate this alcoholic extract 
with bicarbonate of potash, and extract from this the alkaloid either by 
ether or chloroform in the manner already indicated (page 81). 

The tasting the residues from time to time should never be neglected, 
whilst in all cases the physiological action on a frog of the ethereal or 
chloroform residue should be tried and noted. 


Narcissus Pseudo-Narcissus. 
(Daffodil — Meadow Narcissus.) 

Orfila states that he found that four drachms of the aqueous extract of 
this plant secured in the stomach of a dog killed it in twenty-four hours, 
whilst one drachm placed in a wound destroyed life in six hours. 

It acts as au irritant poison. The rectum was invariably found to be 
much inflamed. 


Rhus Radicans (Poison-Oak — Poison-Ivy). R. Toxicodendron. R. Vernix. 

The milky juice of these plants applied to the skin excites intense burn- 
ing and itching. It is said that the mere handling the R. Vernix (poison- 
sumach ) has caused blindness, whilst bad symptoms have been produced 
by its being burnt in au ordinary fire. Other varieties also act as irritant 

3. apocynacej:. 

Nerium Oleander. 

This plant has been examined by Pelikan of St. Petersburg. Its true 
poisonous principle, he believes, is a yellow resiuoid body. 
Experimenting on frogs he found that — 

1. When first administered it produces an acceleration of the heart's 

2. After a few minutes the beats become less frequent. 

3. Later on the pulsations become irregular and then cease entirely. 

4. That at this time the ventricles of the heart are empty and inactive, 
but that the auricles continue to contract. 

5. Finally the heart becomes completely paralyzed. 

Professor Pelikan considers its action very similar to that of digitalis. 


Rex Aquifolium. 


Holly-berries act as a narcotieo-acrid poison. The leaves have been said 
to prove beneficial in diseases of the urinary organs, as well as in jaundice, 
pleurisy, colic, etc. 

Cases of Poisoning by Ilex Aquifolium. 

" Lancet," April 16, 1870, p. 573 (Mr. Barkas). Male : set. 3. Xuiuerous berries of common holly. 
Symptoms. — Vomiting, pain, purging; afterwards drowsiness and loss of consciousness. Recovery 
in twenty-four hours. 
Result. — Recovery. 




Arwn Maculatum. 
(Arum — Cuckoo-pint — Lords and Ladies.) 

The leaves of this plant are arrow-shaped, having an inclosed purple 
column, bearing a cluster of bright-red berries. 

The root is tuberous and very acrid. 

It is an irritant poison, its poisonous properties being dissipated by 

"Portland sago" is manufactured from the roots, which are first steeped 
in water, and then baked and powdered. 

Two leaves are sufficient to produce pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea 

Great local irritation, swelling of the tongue, convulsions, dilated pupils, 
insensibility, and coma are usual symptoms. 

The A. Seguinum ( West Indies) furnishes a juice, two drachms of which 
has proved fatal in a few hours. 

Dr. Frazer advises iu poisoning by the arum to give melted fresh butter, 
and, after tree vomiting is produced, strong coffee (" British Medical Jour- 
nal," June 22, 1861, p. 654). 

Cases of Poisoning with the Arum Maculatum. 

CASE 1.— Guy's "Forensic Medicine," p. 626. Three children. The leaves. 

Symptoms. — The tongues of all the children became so swollen as to render swallowing difficult- 
Two children died in twelve and sixteen days respectively. The third recovered. 

Result. — (2j Death in twelve and sixteen days. (1) Recovery. 

CASE 2.— "Lancet," April 13, 1872, p. 530 (Dr. Russell Steele). Male: at. 43. One leaf taken for 

Symphmu. — Immediate pain and pricking sensation in the mouth downwards; tongue became 
swollen: salivation; vomiting. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.— "British Medical Journal," June 22, 1861, p. 654 (Dr. Frazer). Male: tet. 6. 

Symptoms. — Found in a kind of fit. Spasmodic action of all the muscles of the body ; bloody froth 
at the mouth ; pupils dilated; heart's aetion very feeble; rigid closure of the jaw. A certain drow- 
siness succeeded. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 4.— "British Medical Journal," June 22, 1861, p. 654 (Dr. Frazer). Male: a;t. 8. 

Symptoms. — Convulsions; pupils widely dilated. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 5.—" British Medical Journal," June 22, 1861, p. 654 (Dr. Frazer). (Quoted from " Gazette 
Medica di Porto.") iEt. 3. Masticated the routs 

Symptoms. — Immediate burning pain in mouth and lips; torpor in three hours, complete prostra- 
tion in six hours; delirium; asphyxia. 

Result. — Death in nine hours. 

Another case is also recorded. 
" Medical Times and Gazette," June 6th, 1857. Death from eating leaves. 

Upas Antiar (Antiaris Toj-icaria~). 

This is a Javanese poison. In small doses it acts as an irritant, but in 
large doses it induces coma and convulsions. It acts violently on the 
heart, which will be found immediately after death to have lost its irrita- 
bility, and the left ventricle to contain florid blood. The poison has no 
action when merely applied to a nerve. 

The plant contains a milky juice or extract, the active principle of 
which is a neutral body called Antiarin. 


The Upas Tieute (the Strychnos Tieute" [Loganiacea?]), owes its poisonous 
action to strychnia aud not to antiariu ("Medical Times and Gazette," 
May 16, 1863, p. 511 ; see also August 23, 1862, p. 202). 


Sambucus Xigra. S. Ebulus. 


Christison notes a case which occurred in his practice where the leaves 
and flowers of the elder produced in a boy the active symptoms, continu- 
ing for eight days, of an irritant poison. 

The powdered root of the S. Ebulus (dwarf elder) has proved fatal to 
a woman fifty-four years old in a dose of two tablespoonfuls. 

Viburnum Opttlus. 

(Guelder Rose.) 

The berries of this plant have proved fatal, the symptoms produced 
being those of a narcotico-acrid poison. In one case death occurred in 
thirty-six hours. 

Cases of Poisoning by the Berries of the Guelder Rose. 
Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 44S (Mr. W. B. Smith). Five children eat the herries. 
S ympt o m t. — Coma; insensibility; pupils not much dilated ; legs somewhat rigid. Death occurred 
in one case in thirty-six hours | female, ;et. r>t. The other children recovered. 
Result. — Death in thirty-six hours of female an. 5. Recovery in other cases. 
Puil-murtc'ii. — Xu inflammation of stomach or intestines. Brain slightly congested on the surface. 


Cephaelis Ipecacuanha. 

(Ipecacuan or Ipecacuanha.) 

Ipecacuan is a powerful emetic, and in large doses proves dangerous. 
Serious symptoms of great distress of breathing, vomiting, with even 

Fig. 25. 

slight convulsions, have been frequently produced by the odoriferous efflu- 
via given off from the drug. 


The alkaloid, to which it owes its action, called emetia or emetin 
(C M H, 4 X,0 6 ), is a powerful poison. Two grain.-; will kill a dog in fifteen to 
twenty-four hours, vomiting and coma being the chief symptoms that are 

We may regard ipecacuanha as a narcotico-acrid poison. Our col- 
league, Mr. Kodgers, has seen several cases of severe symptoms produced 
by its internal administration. 

Cinchona Barks. 
(Quinine: Sulphate of Quinoidine.) 

In a case that was referred to one of the authors (Dr. Tidy) by Mr. 
Lewes, the coroner of Essex, two ounces of a strong solution of sulphate 
of quinoidine (eighty-five grains to the oz.), kept in stock by a large qui- 
nine manufacturer For dilution as an "ague mixture," to give his work- 
people, was taken by mistake for black draught. The man died in half 
an hour. We have no record of any symptoms. The brain, according to 
Mr. Kennedy, who made the post-mortem, was much congested, the ves- 
sels being filled with dark-colored blood. The stomach was somewhat 
inflamed, and contained about four ounces of a bitter fluid which exactly 
corresponded with the mixture the deceased was reported to have swal- 
lowed ("Lancet," July 13, 1872, p. 41 >. 

M. Desiderio records that when large doses of sulphate of quinine are 
given to dogs, it produces sleep, giddiness, and defective vision. Bleeding 
and prussic acid were found to relieve the symptoms ("Lancet," April 5, 
1845, p. 374). M. Malier has also made experiments with quinine on 
dogs, and has recorded certain poisonous effects that he has seen produced 
("Lancet," July 27, 1844). Dr. Baldwin states that he has seen blind- 
ness, convulsions, and death result from quinine, and he regards 60 to 80 
grains as a poisonous dose ("Medical Times," July 10, 1847, p. 397). 

In the tropics, however, as much as 120 grains have been given without 
bad effects. It may be doubted if death has ever resulted from quinine 


Artemisia Absinthium and other species. 


Severe symptoms have resulted from the taking of half an ounce of the 
oil of wormwood. It is a narcotico-acrid poison. 

Absinthe, a favorite French liqueur, owes its poisonous action to the oil 
of wormwood that it contains. It is a mixture of several aromatic oils 
with spirit. Its effects, when taken in excess, seem to be terrible, — giddi- 
ness, illusions, muscular weakness, loss of intellect, paralysis, and, above 
all, epileptiform convulsions conjoined with delirium tremens being not 

The experiments of French physicians on animals deserve a passing 
nqtice ("Lancet," March 6, 1869, p. 334). They show that animals ex- 
posed to the action of the vapors of oil of wormwood, experience first 
excitement and then epileptiform convulsions, whilst experiments made 
similarly and side by side with the vapor of alcohol, merely rendered the 
animals intoxicated. These experiments indicate that probably absinthe 
poisoning differs materially from alcoholic intoxication. 

Case of Poisoning by Oil of Wormwood. 

"Medical Times and Gazette," December 6, 1862, p. 613 (Dr. Wm. Smith). Male adult: Sss. of oil 
of wormwood. 



St/ — Found early one morning insensible, convulsed, and foaming at mouth. Convulsions 
passed off; jaws became cKnehed j pupils dilated; pulse slow and weak; attempted to vomit and to 
talk. After vomiting was induced, consciousness partially returned. After recovery he had forgot- 
teu all about it. 

Result. — Recovery. 

Caltha Palustris. 

(Marsh Marigold.) 

Severe symptoms (Rust's "Magazine," xx, 451) were caused in a family 
of five persons from eating the plant. It has an acrid taste (Wibmer 
and Haller). The symptoms induced in the cases mentioned were pain, 
vomitiug, diarrhcea, and an eruption of pemphigous vesicles. In this 
country the marsh marigold can scarcely be regarded as a dangerous 

Lactuea Sativa ( Ordinary Lettuce). Lachica Yirosa (Strong-scented Lettuce). 

The lettuce is a narcotic poison. The L. Virosa is more energetic in 
its action than the L. Sativa. 

The inspissated juice (Lactucarium) of the lettuce is more active than 
the extract. The juice is at first milky, but afterwards dries np to a brown 
mass. It is very bitter (due to Lactucia), and has an opium odor, but 
does not give the opium reactions. 


Yew and savin are the only two poisonous plants of the order Conifers? 
growing in this country. The one may easily be distinguished from the 
other by the peculiar odor developed when savin is submitted to friction, 
and by the absence of any smell when the yew is subjected to a similar 

Juniperus Sabina. 

Savin is a bushy shrub, having a round purple currant-like fruit. All 
parts of the plant have a strong odor and an acrid taste. It is an irritant 
poison, and owes its action to the presence of an essential oil, which may 
be obtained by distillation from the fresh tops of the shrub. 

It is rarely taken as a poison, but is frequently both taken and given 
for the purpose of procuring abortion. 

The experiments on animals with savin are important. 





5ij of powdered 
savin. (Dr. 

3vj of the pow- 
dered leaves 

5ij of the pow- 
dered leaves 




Drowsiness in one hour; vomit- 
ing came on in an hour and a 
half, after which the dug went 
to f-leep. Two hours afterwards 
it was found in the same po- 
sition, quite comatose, the 
breathing " puffy," the pupils 
contracted, the action of the 
heart slow and labored, but 
the limbs moving when pinch- 
ed. For eight hours it lay in 
this state, passing blood invol- 
untarily by stool, occasional 
convulsive movements of the 
hind legs being noted ; the 
breathing became slower and 
slower; and death occurred in 
fourteen hours after taking 
the poison. 

Injected into the stomach, and 
secured by a ligature; death 
in sixteen hours. 

Placed in a wound; death on 
the second day. 

Vessels on surface of brain con- 
gested and filled with dark 
blood; the brain itself some- 
what congested; lungs col- 
lapsed and of a bright scarlet 
color; riyht cavities of the 
heart full — the left empty ; 
liver and spleen congested ; 
stomach and upper part of the 
small intestines very pale ex- 
ternally — the lower part of in- 
testines being very congested 
and highly vascular internally; 
the stomach was pale, except- 
ing in two or three spots, where 
the mucous coat was injected 
with blood; it contained a dark- 
brown fluid, yielding a turbid 
liquid on distillation, from 
which savin oil was obtained. 

Redness of the rectum. 

Redness of the lower bowels. 


Oil of Savin. 

(C 10 H 16 ; isomeric with oil of turpentine.) 

The oil is either colorless or of a pale-yellow tint (sp. gr. 0.915), and 
has a peculiar odor and taste. 

Symptoms — Time of Death. 

The symptoms are not immediate in their appearance. They generally 
consist of pain, vomiting, violent straining at stool, followed by coma. Sali- 
vation has been recorded. Abortion (if the patient be pregnant) may or 
may not occur. Death may be delayed for several days, whilst it may 
take place in as soon as fifteen or sixteen hours after the poison has been 
swallowed. The cases on record do not state the doses that caused death. 

It has also been given for worms, but is a dangerous medicine. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

Congestion of the venous and capillary system has been generallv 
found, the blood being black and the heart full, especially on the right 
side. Savin exerts a specific action upon the vessels of the lower bowel, 
rendering it turgid and inflamed. And this is the true action of savin 
with respect to its supposed abortive power and its influence in urging on 
the menstrual flow. It is only natural that the vessels of the uterus should 
participate in the general plethora of the intestinal system. Vogt states 
that it has a tendeucy to produce au apoplectic condition of the fcetus, 
and this indeed appears to be highly probable. No doubt, therefore, if a 
"woman has a tendency to miscarry, the intestinal irritation and the con- 
stitutional injury occasioned bv savin will materially aid it. But on the 
other hand it may and often does fail. Fodere relates one case where a 
woman took 100 drops of the oil daily for twenty days without effect, and 
a second where a large dose of the powder was taken by a pregnant woman, 
and although violent poisoning symptoms were produced, abortion did not 

Savin, however, is strongly believed in by the vulgar, and its discovery, 
therefore, in the stomach after death affords ground for serious suspicion. 

To.ricohgical A n alijsis. 

In a medico-legal investigation the contents of the stomach, if powdered 
savin has been taken, will probably be found of a green color, whilst the 
coniferous structure of the herb will be recognized by the microscope. The 
organic matters must then be distilled, when a turbid fluid will come over, 
smelling and tasting like oil of savin. This is to be shaken up with ether, 
when the liquid will immediately clear. The ether must then be decanted 
and allowed to evaporate spontaneously, when the oil of savin dissolved 
by the ether will remain behind, and may be recognized by its peculiar 
odor and taste. The residue in the retort should theu be digested with 
ether, when a green solution, consisting of resin and chlorophyll, will be 

The odor of the herb is developed by friction, as by rubbing it in a 
mortar. The watery solution strikes a deep green with permuriate of iron. 

Cases of Poisoning by Savin. 

CASE 1.—" Medical Gazette," vol. xxxvi, p. 646. Female. Quantity (?). 

Symptoms. — Abortion first took place, and afterwards death. 

RetuU.— Death. 

Posi-moriem. — Stomach and intestines very inflamed. Portions of savin found on examination 


CASE li— "Lancet." lS-t-n vol. i. p. t'.TT Dr. Letlu-by ami Mr. Xewth). Female: set. 21. Pregnant ; 
seventh or eighth mouth. Quant : : 

Sympioms. — After a few hours had violent pain and sickness, and then became insensible. After a 
time stertorous breathing came on, with foaming at mouth and convulsions. The uterus in twelve 
hours vu acting vigorously, each contraction being accompanied with convulsive tremor. Four 
hours afterwards, as the labor was progressing, she gave a low moan, and died. 

Resu't. — Death in sixteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Vessels on surface of brain gorged, andhrain itself inflamed ; stomach almost natural 
except in one or two spots, which were red. Savin found. 

CASE S. — "Christison," |>. (>ivg I Mr. Cockson*. Female. Infusion of savin leaves taken in two 
doses to produce abortion. 

Symptoms. — Pain. The following day she miscarried, and four days afterwards died. 

Result. — Death in four days. 

Post-mortem. — Extensive peritoneal inflammation : stomach very red, contents being green, and 
containing portious of savin. 

CASE 4— "Christison," p. 606 (Dr. Trailli. Female. Powdered savin. 

Symptoms. — Pain, vomiting, straining at stool, great fever, and death after several days. 

Result.— Death after several d;<ys. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach inflamed, and in parts black and perforated ; intestines also inflamed. 
Savin powder detected after death. 

CASE 5 — " Wibmer." Female. Infusion. 

SymjJoms. — Violent vomiting. 

Result— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Death caused by bursting of gall-bladder from violent vomiting. 

CASE 6.— "Fodere," vol. iii. p. 431. Female. Powdered savin. Seven months pregnant. 

Symptoms. — Hiccough and vomiting, followed by a fever lasting fifteen days, from which she re- 
covered. After two uioutbs was coufined of a healthy child. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 7.— " Lancet," July 13, 1872, p. 41 Dr. Tidy). Female. 

Symptoms.— Convulsions. Symptoms very like strychnia. 

Remit.— Death. 

The following Case of Poisoning by Sarin is also recorded. 
" Medical Times and Gazette," Sept. 28, 1S5U, p. 344. (Death. Female : set. 34.) 

Taxit-3 Baccata. 


The leaves of the yew are lancet-shaped. The berries are about the size 
of a pea, and are contained in two capsules, one being of a light-red color, 
and open at the top, exposing a brown capsule underneath. This con- 
tains a thick colorless juice, which is very acrid and nauseous both to taste 
and smell. The yew is a narcotico-acrid poisou, and its action on animals 
generally is severe and rapid (case of Wilson v. Newbury). It is vulgarly 
but erroneously supposed that the fresh leaves are inert. 

Two ounces of the juice of the leaves was found to prove fatal to a dog, 
whilst thirty-sis grains of the extract when injected into the jugular vein 
caused death, with giddiness and stupor (Orfila i. 

In the human subject the leaves and berries have both proved fatal, in 
times varying from less than one hour to nineteen hours. Vomiting, con- 
vulsions, and coma are the prominent symptoms recorded. Recovery is 

It has been administered as a cure for worms, and has likewise been given 

. and taken from its supposed power of producing abortion. (Yew-tree 

tea. i The nature of the yew-poison is not exactly known, but experiments 

lead to the belief that the active principle exists in a larger quantity in the 

seeds than in the other parts of the plant (" Lancet," Oct. 24, 1868, p. 560). 

Cases of Poisoning icith Tew. 

CASE 1— "Provincial Journal," Nov. 29, 1848, p. 662. Female: at. 5. Berries. 

Symptoms. — Coma. 

Result. — Death in four hours. 


CASE 2.— "Provincial Journal," Dec. 27, p. 708. Male: aet. 4. Berries. 

Symptoms. — Immediate vomiting, purging, coma, convulsions, dilated pupils, small pulse. 

Result, — Death in nineteen hours. 

CASE 3.— "Dublin Hospital Gazette," May 15, 1845, p. 109 (Dr. Mollan). Male adult (lunatic). 
Chewed the leaves. 

Symptoms.— Rapid giddiness, vomiting, prostration, spasms, with irregular action of the heart. 

Result. — Death in fourteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach distended. 

CASE 4. — "Lancet," Oct. 1, 1870, p. 471. Female: aet. 19. Decoction of leaves taken for four con- 
secutive mornings, to bring on catamenia. 

Symptoms. — Death eight hours alter the last dose. Intense narcotism. Vomiting and delirium. 

Result. — Death in eight hours. 

Post-mortem. — No post-mortem peculiarities. 

CASE 5. — " Taylor's Medical Juris.," vol. i, p. 446 (Dr. Proctor). Female adult. About a teaspoon- 
ful of the leaves. 

Symptoms. — After some hours became insensible, and died in a state of collapse three hours after 
the first symptoms. 

Result.— Death after several hours. 

CASE 6.—" Taylor's Medical Juris.," vol. i, p. 447 (Mr. Hurt, of Mansfield). JEt. 3%. A quantity 
of yew leaves. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in one hour. No pain. Convulsions and rapid death. In the first instance 
seeim-d to want to sleep. 

Result. — Death rapid. 

Post-mortem. — Redness and softening of the stomach : inflammation of small intestines. 

CASE 7.— "Medical Times and Gazette," 1870, vol. ii, p. 446. Male. Berries. 

Symptoms. — Found dead sitting in his chair after seven hours. 

Result.— Death in seven hours at most. 

Post-mortem. — Right cavities of heart distended with fluid blood ; stomach and small intestines red 
and softened ; liver congested. 

CASE 8. — "Rust's Magazine," vol. xxiii, p. 374 (Dr. Hartmann). Female. Decoction taken to 
procure abortion. 

Symptoms. — Died without miscarriage. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 9.— "Beck's Medical Juris.," p. 885 (Dr. Pereival). Three children: set. 5, 4, 3. Fresh 
leaves given for worms. 

Symptoms. — Yawning, listlessness. The eldest child vomited a little, and had pain, but the others 
had none. Death occurred in all within a few hours of each other. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 10.— " Lancet," October 17, 1868, p. 530 (Dr. James Thompson). Male : set. 3. Berries. 

Symptoms. — Convulsions; patient became semi-comatose ; vomiting; dilated pupils. 

Result. — Death in four hours. 

Post-mortem. — Liver and stomach congested. 

CASE 11.— "British Medical Journal," June 17, 1871, p. 643 (Mr. Wallis). Female: let. 17. Yew 

Symptoms. — Death very sudden. Pupils slightly dilated. 

Result.— Death rapid. 

Post-mortem.— Heart normal ; stomach inflamed, and contained yew leaves. 


Convolvulus Seammonea. 

The resin of the scammony is usually obtained from the root by its 
solution in rectified spirit, and is therefore free from admixture with gum. 
The natural scammony is prepared by allowing the juice to flow from in- 
cisions in the root, and this generally contains as much as 10 to 20 per 
cent, of gum. 

Scammonin (C 3J H 52 16 ), the active principle of the plant, is a glucoside. 

Scammony is generally regarded as an irritant poison. Orfila, however, 
questions this, aud asserts that he has found dogs live after taking four 
drachms, no symptom other than purging being produced. 

Exogonium Purga (Fig. 26). 
(Jalap). Mexico. 
"Jalap" is the powdered tuber of the above plant. It contains about 



10 to 15 per cent, of a resin which can be extracted by spirit, and also 
about 21) per cent, of starch, water and extractive matters. 

The resin is insoluble in water, or turpentine, partially soluble in ether, 
and very soluble in alcohol. It turns F og 

crimson when treated with sulphuric 

An acid (Jalapic Acid, C 6 ,,H 10li O3 3 \ 
is present in that portion soluble in 
ether. It also contains two active 
bodies, jalapiu and convolvulin. 

Jalapin (C^H^OJ. 

Jalapin is the true active principle 
of the jalap. It is soluble in ether. 
Sulphuric acid changes it yellow, the 
color turning to an orange or reddish- 
brown when heated. Acted on with 
nitric acid it changes yellow. 

Convolvulin (C^H^O,^. 

Convolvulin is found chiefly in the 
Mexican male jalap, and is insoluble 
in ether. 

Jalap is an irritant, and in large 
doses an active poison. Two drachms 
will kill a dog in four or five days. Death is caused by exhaustion from 
excessive purging. 


Coriaria Myrtifolia. 
(Myrtle-leaved Sumach.) 

This plant is a narcotico-acrid poison. Fatal cases have occurred from 
the leaves having been employed as an adulterant of senna leaves. (See 
a case of serious symptoms from senna tea, " Lancet," January 3, 1846, 
p. 28.) Death has been caused in au adult by fifteen of the berries. The 
symptoms that have been noted are a form of intoxication, with dilated 
pupils, tetanic convulsions, and coma. Death has occurred within four 
hours, whilst it has been delayed for twenty-four. 

Experiments on animals show that one drachm of the extract of the juice 
will kill a cat in two hours, and that half a drachm applied to a wound, will 
destroy life in eighty-five minutes. One grain injected into the jugular 
vein of a rabbit proved immediately fatal, death occurring in a single con- 
vulsive paroxysm. Given internally rabbits do not appear to be affected 
by it (Mayer, of Bonn). The post-mortem appearances show the brain 
intensely congested and the blood fluid. 

The G. Sarmentosa (Toot plant of Australia and New Zealand) is ex- 
ceedingly poisonous, although it is stated that old colonists, as well as 
native horses and cattle, eat the plant with tolerable impunity. 

Cases of Poisoning by Coriaria Myrtifolia. 

CASE 1. — " Mem. de l'Acad. des Sciences," 1739, p. 47 (Sauvages). Child. Berries. 

Symptoms. — Epileptic convulsions. 

Result. — Death in one day. 

Post-mortem. — No post-mortem peculiarities. 


CASE 2. — " Mem. de l'Acad.des Sciences," 1739, p. 47 (Sauvages). Adult. Fifteen berries. 

Symptoms. — Livid it y of face ; convulsions, coma. The berries were discharged after an emetic, but 
death took place the same day. 

Result.— Death within twenty-four hours. 

CASE 3. — "Journal de Cbim, Med.," vol. iv, 528 (M. Fee). Male adult. Infusion of senna leaves 
that had been adulterated with coriaria, etc. 

Symptoms. — Colic, convulsions, lockjaw. 

Result. — Death within four hours. 

Post-mortem, — Inflammation of stomach and bowels. 

CASE 4.— "London Medical and Physical Journal," April, 1829, vol. lxi, p. 292 (Roux). 2Et. 3^. 
From 80 to 100 berries. 

Symp/om*.— Intoxication, rolling of eyes, loss of voice; coma, lockjaw, and convulsions; dilated 
pupils. Death. 

Result. — Death in sixteen hours and a half. 

Post-mortem. — Injection of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. No other special post- 
mortem appearances, except red patches in the intestines and stomach. 

CASE 5.— "London Medical and Physical Journal," April, 1829, vol. lxi, p. 292 (Roux). Three 

Si/mptoms. — All recovered after vomiting freely. 

Result. — Recovery. 


Bryonia Dioica. 

(White Bryony or Wild Vine.) 

The white bryony is commonly found in hedges climbing by tendrils. 
The leaves are rough, and the flowers small and of a green color; the 
berries are clustered (six seeds) and contain a very fetid juice ; the root is 
spindle-shaped, fleshy, and pale, and is the most active part of the plant. 

Bryony is a simple irritant poison. 

It is said to contain an active principle called bryonin, 20 grains of 
which, injected into the pleura of animals, was found to cause death in 
seven hours. (Brandes and Firnhaber.) 

One ounce of the root, secured in the stomach of a dog, killed it in 
twenty-four hours, and two and a half drachms introduced into a wound 
proved fatal in six hours (Orfila). Vomitiug, purging, and watery evacu- 
ations are the symptoms recorded. 

The symptoms produced in the human subject are giddiness, intoxica- 
tion, vomiting, diarrhoea, and coma. Death has occurred within four 
hours, and been delayed for thirty. 

Cases of Poisoning with Bryony. 

CASE 1. — "Neues Magazin," vol. i, part iii, p. 557 (Pyl). Male adult. Infusion of root taken as a 
cure for ague. 

Symptoms. — Purging. 

Rtmll— Death. 

CASE 29.— Orfila, "Toxicologic" vol. i, p. 680. Female adult. Decoction of Sj, part administered 
by mouth, and part used as an injection, taken to stop secretion of milk. 

Result. — Death in four hours. 

CASE 3.—" Lancet," May 9, 1868, p. 610 (Dr Goate). Female: ait. 3. Berries. 

Symptoms. — Giddiness in half an hour; furious delirium during the night; vomiting; diarrhoea; 
and dilated pupils; afterwards coma. 

Result. — Death in thirty hours. 



Fir.. 27. 

Cucumis Colocynthis (Fig. 27). 
(Colocynth — Bitter Apple). 

The fruit is hard ami yellow, about the size of an orange, somewhat 
porous, very bitter, and contains about 
~'2 per cent, of seeds. It is usually met 
with iu a dried and decorticated state. 

Its active principle is Colocyiithin 
(C i0 H M O. j3 C?) ), which is aglucoside, sol- 
uble in water and alcohol, but not in 

Three drachms of coloeyuth, secured 
in the stomach of a dog, killed it in fif- 
teen hours, whilst death was caused by 
two drachma introduced into a wound 
(Orfila). In the experiments of the au- 
thors 3 iiiss. proved fatal to three dogs 
iu eighteen, twenty-two, and thirty-six 
hours respectively. 

The symptoms produced by it in the 
human subject are those of an irritant 

A teaspoouful and a half of the pow- 
der has caused death, but recovery is 
recorded after swallowing as much as 
three ounces. 

Death has occurred iu one, two, and 
three days. 

It is stated (Bocler) that those engaged in handling and triturating the 
pulp often suffer from violent purging. 

Cases of Poisoning with Colocynth. . 

CASE 1.— Orfila, " Toxicologic," vol. i, p 695. Male adult. Siij of colocynth taken for a gonor- 

X'/mptoms.— Vomiting, pain, diarrhcea.delirium. (Milk was administered, and leeches applied to 
the groin.) 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 2 — "Christison," p. 595. Ferrale adult. A teaspoonful and a half of colocynth powder. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting, purging, and death. 

Remit. — Death iu twenty-four hours. 

CASE 3.— Orfila, " Toxicologic," vol. i, p. 695 (M. Carron d'Annecy). Male adult. Decoction taken 
in two doses to cure piles. 

Symptoms.— Colic and purging; pain ; afterwards the purging ceased, and retention of urine came 
on. with priapism, clammy sweats, and death. 

Result. — Death on the third day. 

Post-mortem. — Intestines red, with black spots ; stomach here and there ulcerated ; liver, kidneys, 
and bladder inflamed. 

i ASE 4.—" Lancet," Feb. 1, 1868, p. 158 (Dr. Tidy;. Female adult. 5ij to r.iij of the powdered fruit. 

Symptoms. — Purging (stools bloody) and vomiting in a few hours. Death. 

Result. — Death in forty hours. 

Rost-mortem. — No post-mortem appearances specially to be remarked. 

Ecbalium Officinarum (Fig. 28). 
(Squirting or Wild Cucumber — Elaterium.) 
The fruit of the plant is about one aud a half inches in length. What 



Fig. 28. 

is known as " Elaterium" is the deposit that forms from the clear strained 
expressed juice of the fruit. 

The active principle of the 
plant is elaterin. The quan- 
tity present in English elate- 
rium varies from 15 to 26 per 
cent., whilst in French speci- 
mens it is not more than from 
5 to 6. 

Elaterium also contains a 
green resinous matter, which 
is soluble in ether. It is an 
irritant poison. As a medi- 
cine it is somewhat uncertain, 
its action being that of a dras- 
tic hydragogue purgative. 

One-fifth of a grain of elate- 
rium given to a rabbit in two 
doses at an interval of twenty- 
four hours killed it in seventeen hours after the last dose. 

One grain has been known to act violently in the human subject, and 
Christison records a case where bad symptoms, lasting for twelve hours, 
were caused by merely carrying the plant in a hat on the head. 

The symptoms produced by it are vomiting, violent purging, and great 
depression. The medicinal dose is |th to jth or ^d of a grain, if the ela- 
terin be good. 

Elaterin (C 20 H 28 O 5 ). 

Elaterin is prepared by acting on elaterium with spirit, filtering off the 
fibrous and starchy matters, when the elaterin and the resin remain in 
solution. From this the resin is got rid of by pouring the concentrated 
alcoholic filtrate into a warm solution of potash, by which means the resin 
remains dissolved, whilst the elaterin is deposited in the form of crystals. 

It is very bitter, freely soluble in alcohol, and but very slightly soluble 
either in water or ether. It is doubtful if it be a glucoside. 

Nitric acid has no action upon it. Sulphuric acid turns it of a reddish- 
brown color. 


Tamus Communis. 

(Black Bryony.) 

The black bryony is common in hedges. It has no tendrils. The leaves 
are smooth and heart-shaped, the berries ovoid and red, and the root black. 
The berries are an irritant poison, and have produced bad symptoms. 


Croton Tiglium. 
(Purging Nuts — Croton.) 

The seeds of the croton are similar in appearance to castor oil seeds, but 
smaller, not so bright, and marked by longitudinal lines. They are with- 
out smell, but have an acrid taste. 

They contain 50 to 60 per cent, of an oil (croton oil) which is of a light- 
yellow color, soluble in ether, and turns dark-brown when treated with 
nitric acid. 


Both the seeds and the oil are active irritant poisons, their activity being 
due to a volatile tatty acid (crotonic acid) which is destroyed by saponi- 
fication with potash. (Pelletier and Caventou.) 

The symptoms usually occur -within a short time after the poison has 
been swallowed. Intense pain, and a cholera-like condition, such as cramps, 
a cold blue skin, imperceptible pulse, and rice-water stools, with purging 
and collapse, are the ordinary symptoms. 

Death lias occurred iu as soon as three hours, whilst it has been delayed 
for three days. Life is rarely, however, prolonged beyond ten hours. 

Three minims of the oil has caused death in a child thirteen months old, 
and a half drachm in an adult. Recovery is recorded after doses of forty- 
five and fifty-five drops, and even after as much as half an ounce. 

The experiments that have been made with croton oil on animals are 
not numerous. Forty seeds killed a horse iu seven hours, and a dog died 
after thirty minims of the oil (Landsberg). Christison found that four 
minims would produce severe symptoms in a dog, whilst fifteen to twenty 
minims would ordinarily prove fatal from the exhaustion produced by 
excessive purging. 

Cases of Poisoning with Croton OH. 

CASE 1.—" Aon. d'Hyg.," 1871, vol. i, p. 409 (M. Chevallier). Male adult. Sss. in mistake for cod- 
liver oil. 

Symptoms. — Burning sensation; vomiting, purging, with symptoms of collapse. Recovery in 
fourteen days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

I LSE 2.—" Ann. d'Hyg.," 1371, vol. i, p. 409(Devergie). Male:set.25. Siiss. of the oil. 

Symptoms. — Purging, collapse, death. 

Result. — Death in four hours. 

CASE 3.— "Lancet," August 21, ISfiO, p. 234 (Dr. Manveziu). Female: set. 6. 45 drops of the oil. 

Symptoms. — Burning pain; vomiting; weut to sleep for four hours, and afterwards had no further 
bad symptoms. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 4.—" Medical Times." November 30, 1839, p. 75. Male: set. 25. Large quantity. "Journal 
de Chiin. Med.," 1839, p. 509. 

Symp'oms. — In three-quarters of an hour was found with scarcely a psrceptible pulse ; difficult respi- 
ration ; lips, eyes, and extremities blue; pupils normal but insensible; abdomen very tender, and 
attempts to vomit frequent. After a short time be became as it were intoxicated. Diarrhoea set in, 
in one hour and a half. He gradually lost sensibility, and died in about four hours. 

Resttll. — Death in four hours. 

Post-mortem. — Mucous membrane of stomach slightly softened. A few spots of ulceration found 
in the intestines; otherwise normal. 

CASE 5.— "Lancet," April US, 1870, p. 553 (Dr. Auge>. Female: set. 6. 55 drops of oil. 

Si/mptonis.— Diarrhoea and fever for three or four days, but recovery took place without any bad 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 6.—" British Medical Journal," February 14, 1874, p. 211. Female: set. 53. Oil taken by 
mistake for cough mixture. 

Result— Death. 

CASE 7. — "Medical Times and Gazette," August, 1365, p. 142 (Dr. Greenhow). 30 m. of croton oil. 

Symptoms. — In two hours had very much the appearance of a patient suffering from cholera; 
purging (rice-water stools) and cramp; surface cold, and skin blue; pulse almost imperceptible ; 
gapping respiration ; intellect clear. 

Result. — Death in ten hours. 

CASE 8.— "Medical Gazette," vol. 43, p. 41. Female. 

Symptoms. — Hot burning sensations came on directly. Death in convulsions. 

Result. — Death iu three days. 

CASE 9.— "Edinburgh Medical Journal," August, 1861 (Dr. Brydon). Female: set. 19. Haifa 
teaspoonfui with olive oil. 

Symptoms.— Intense pain in throat and gullet in half an hour. Violent vomiting, and then pain 
in the stomach ; no violent purging. Recovery iu a day or two. 

Resu/t. — Recovery. 

CASE 10.— "Medical Times and Gazotte," 1870, vol. ii, p. 4G6. &t. 13 months. 3 m. with soap 

Result. — Death in six hours. 


The following Cases of Poisoning by the Oil and Seeds are also recorded: 

"Medical Times and Gazette," November 20, 1858, p. 528 (Reg. v. Hippenstall). 
"Lancet," August 4, lS66,p. 139. 

"Medical Times and Gazette," March 7, 1874, p. 272 (twenty-four people made very ill from taking 
croton oil seeds). 

"Pharmaceutical Journal," February, 1868, p. 379. 

Euphorbia Officinarum and other species. 

Euphorbium consists of the dried milky juice which exudes from the 
stems of the various forms of spurgeworts. It contains about 44 per cent, 
of a resin which constitutes the active principle. The juice, which is in- 
tensely acrid, is used by farriers as a vesicant. The seeds of some species 
yield as much as 40 per cent, of an oil which is very similar both in action 
and appearance to croton oil. 

Euphorbium is a narcotico-acrid poison, vomiting and purging with 
coma and convulsions being the symptoms recorded as produced by it. 
Its application to the skin produces a uettlerash eruption. A prosecution 
is recorded against a man for putting some of the powder in his maid-ser- 
vant's bed, whereby a violent and painful eruption of the skin was pro- 
duced. The men engaged in grinding the powder are said to surfer from 
giddiness and stupor. 

Half an ounce secured in the stomach of a dog proved fatal in twenty- 
six and a half hours, whilst two drachms applied to a wound destroyed life 
in twenty-seven hours. 

Cases of Poisoning with various species of Euphorbia. 


CASE 1.— "Journal of Science," vol. iii, p. 51, "Cbristison" (Mr. Furnival). Male. A teaspoon ful. 
Symptoms.— Pain and heat in throat and stomach ; vomiting set in rapidly, pulse irregular. Death. 
Result. — Death in three days. 

Post-mortem. — Gangrenous spots found in stomach. Spleen very rotten. 

CASE 2.— Beck's "Medical Jurisprudence" (Dr. Willis). Female. 3ij of the tincture, mixed with 
Symptoms. — Immediate pain, and feeling of suffocation ; (relieved by emetics). 
Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 3. — "Medico-Chirurgical Review," vol. vii, p. 275. Male : let. 6. 
Siimptimis. — Vomiting, purging, spasms, insensibility. Death. 
Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Fauces and pharynx much inflamed ; stomach and intestines inflamed ; large intes- 
tines healthy ; bladder contracted. 


CASE 4.— "Christison," p. 589 (Dr. Hood). Two seeds. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting; afterwards drowsiness, passing into intense sleep; convulsions; stertorous 
breathing. Recovery. 
Result. — Recovery. 

Hippomane Mancinella (or Manzanilla). 

The milky juice, the apples, and the wood of this tree are poisonous. 
Two drachms applied to a wound killed a dog in twenty-eight hours, with 
violent diffuse cellular inflammation, whilst one drachm proved fatal in 
nine hours when administered internally. 

By merely rubbing the green wood on the skin, violent inflammation is 


produced. The carpenters who work with manchineel have to protect 
themselves from the dust hy gauze masks. It is even asserted by good 
authorities (although doubted by Ricord) that the sleeping under the tree 
and receiving the droppings of moisture on the sound skin will produce 
dangerous symptoms. Merely collecting the juice has produced bad effects 
C" Medical Times and Gazette," December 23, 1871, p. 770). 

Jatropha Cureas. ( WeM Indies.) 
(Physic Nut — Indian Nut — Juva Tree.) 

The seeds of this plant contain an acrid oil, which, in appearance, is 
not unlike croton oil. Twelve to fifteen drops will act powerfully, whilst 
the cake from which the oil is expressed produces violent symptoms in 
doses of even a few grains. Four seeds act as a powerful cathartic. It is 
an irritant poison. 

The Jatropha Urens, from the stories that are recorded, seems to be ex- 
traordinarily powerful in its action. Even the touching it may induce 
dangerous symptoms. At Kew, one of the gardeners is reported merely 
to have allowed his wrist to come in contact with the plant, when in a few 
minutes such severe symptoms of collapse set in, that the man was sup- 
posed to be dead. (" Pharmaceutical Journal," April 17, 1872, p. 863.) 
He afterwards rallied. 

The juice of the root of the Jatropha Manihot (Cassava plant), from 
which tapioca is obtained, has been known to prove fatal. It is a narcotico- 
acrid poison. 

The Jatropha Multifida is also poisonous. 

Cases of Poisoning by Species of Jatropha. 

CASE 1.— "Medical Times and Gazette," June 25, 1864, p. 703 ; Aug. 7, 1858, p. 143. One hundred 
and thirty-nine children eat the nuts at Dublin. 

CASE 2. — " Annales d'Hygiene," 1871, vol. i, p. 408 (M. Chevallier). Thirty-three persons poisoned 
by eating the seeds. Thirteen recovered. 
Symptoms. — Nausea; vomiting and general depression. 


CASE 3.— Beck's "Medical Jurisprudence" (Dr. Clark). Male adult. Half a pint of juice. 
Result. — Death in one hour. 

CASE 4. — Beck's "Medical Jurisprudence." Thirty-sis drops of the juice. 
Symptoms. — Convulsions and death. 
Result. — Death in six minutes. 

Post-mortem. — Nothing abnormal, except that the stomach was shrunk to about half its ordinary 

Bicimis Communis (Fig. 29). 
(Castor Oil Plant.) 

Castor oil is well known as a safe and mild purgative, but the seeds 
from which it is extracted are very poisonous. 

The castor oil seed is about the size of a small bean, oval, smooth, shin- 
ing, and marked with dark spots. The poisonous principle is certainly 
not in the oil, but opinions somewhat differ as to what it is, or where it 
really exists. No doubt the seed is rendered more poisonous by the heat 
requisite for extracting the oil, whilst its intensity of action is much in- 
fluenced by climate. The seeds, therefore, are poisonous, both to man and 
animals, even after the extraction of the oil. It is a curious fact that the 
outer covering of the seed, from its corky indigestible nature, may prevent 
the seed acting injuriously if it be swallowed without being masticated or 
being otherwise bruised. 



Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

The symptoms may be delayed for some hours. They are those of an 
irritant poison. Bloody stools have been noticed, with violent cramps and 
suppression of urine. Death is usually somewhat tardy (two to five days). 

Three grains of the fresh seed, and in a second case one seed, have pro- 
duced bad symptoms; whilst there are cases on record of death in one case 
from three seeds, and in another from twenty. It is said that the Hunga- 
rians eat these seeds freely, but this, we think, must be a mistake. 

The post-mortem appearances and treatment are those of an irritant 

In examining the contents of the stomach, particular search must be 
made for the variegated outer coats of the seed (pale-gray with yellowish- 

brown spots) which are 'not likely to be dissolved by the digestive fluids. 
Some castor oil may also probably be extracted from the contents, which, 
unlike most fixed oils, is soluble in alcohol. 

Cases of Poisoning with Castor Oil Seeds. 

CASE 1. — Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 328, vol. i. Female: jet. IS. Twenty castor-oil 

Symptoms. — In five hours faintness and sickness, with vomiting and purging, set in. On the morn- 
ing afterwards, she appeared as if she was suffering from malignant cholera, the skin being cold and 
dark-colored ; breath cold; pulse small and wiry; thirst, restlessness; abdominal pain; semi-con- 
sciousness; everything taken was vomited; stools consisted merely of blood and serous fluid. 

Result— Death in five days. 

J'ost^mortem. — A large part of the mucous membrane of the stomach found softened and abraded. 


CASE 2.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," p. 828, vol. 1. (1) Female: a?t. 4 or 5. (2) Female: set. 2. 

Symptoms. — Both taken ill very soon. 

He-suit. — Recovery. 

CASE 3 — 'Medical Times and Gazette," May 25, 1861, p. 555. Male: set. 32. Three seeds, from 
which the husks had been removed. 

Si/m^oms. — Colic and vomiting came on in nine hours. In twenty-four hours the symptoms were 
very severe. 

Result.— Death in forty-six hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach and intestines congested tbrougbont ; no ulceration was noticed. 

CASE 4. — " Annalesd'Hygiene," 1871, vol. i, p. 400 (M. Chevallien. Female. A quantity of bruised 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and bloody purging came on quickly. Death. 

Rrsult.— Deatn on fifth day. 

Post-mortem. — The mucous membrane of the stomach and bowels was dark-colored and ecchy- 
mosed, and there were several patches of extravasations of blood. 

CASE 5— " Jahresbericht," 1872, p. 533. Male- adult. Seventeen seeds. 

Symptoms. — In three hours purging, vomiting, and cramp: vomiting continued for twenty-one 
hours, and suppression of urine for forty-eight. Recovery. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 6.—" Medical Times and Gazette," 1870, vol. i, p. 581 (Mr. little). 5Ll. 6 and 3. Several set 
were masticated by the children. 

Symptoms. — Great collapse, with vomiting and purging; surface of body pale and perspiring; stools 
frequent and watery ; great pain and thirst. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 7.—" Lancet," March 31, 1S66, p. 357. Male : adult. A few of the seeds. 
Symptoms. — Vomiting ; purging; pain in stomach and gullet ; prostration extreme. 
Result. — Reco v e ry . 

CASE 8. — Christison, p. 690 t.'from Orfila\ (Bergin). Male: adult. Masticated one seed. 
Syjiipfoms. — Vomiting; purging. 
Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 9. — Christison, p. 590 (from Orfilat, (Lanzoni). Female: adult. Three grains of the fresh. 
Symptoms. — Vomiting; hiccough; pain; faintness; twisting of bowels; syncope. 
Result. — Reco v e ry . 


Secale cornutum. 

Ergot of Eye — Spurred Eye — Seigle Ergote (Fr.) — Mutterkorn or Kog- 
genmutter (German). 

Wheat, barley, oats, and rye, but especially the latter, are liable to be 
attacked by the ergot disease, particularly when they are grown ou ill- 
drained soils. Damp seasons are also specially favorable to the develop- 
ment of the ergot. The spur varies in size from a quarter to one inch iu 
length, and from one-sixth to one-third of an inch in thickness. Exter- 
nally it appears of a deep purple color, having upon it two or three streak* 
of dotted gray, and a bloom consisting of the sporidia of the fungus. In- 
ternally it is white or pink. The sound rye is specifically heavier than 
the diseased rye. The ergot is tough but brittle, very hygroscopic, having 
an acrid taste and a disagreeable odor. It yields its active principle to- 
both alcohol and water. 

By acting upon it with a solution of potash, the ergot odor is freely dis- 
engaged, and a lake-red pulp remains behind. It loses its activity by 
keeping, especially when it has become moist and mouldy. 

Ergot contains about 35 per cent, of a fixed non-active oil, and about 
15 per cent, of an active principle called ergotin. It is said to contain 
hydrocyanic acid, but of this there is great doubt. 

Experiments on Animals. 

The experiments on animals require notice. It acts as a poison to all 



animals, unless it produces early vomiting, which is found to be usually 
the case when administered to cats and dogs. The symptoms produced 
by it are at first giddiness, dilated pupils, and palsy ; and later on diarrhoea, 
suppurating tumors, gangrene, with even sometimes dropping ofl" of the 
toes (Dr. Robert). Nine grains of the active principle killed a fowl in 
three days, death occurring in a convulsive fit | Wiggers). Six grains 
proved fatal to sparrows in six or seven hours (Taddei). A strong infusion 
of from 5'j ss - to 5 v j °f ergot injected into the jugular veins of dogs, de- 
stroyed life in periods varying from a few minutes to two hours, paralysis, 
spasms, coma, and a depressed action of the heart being ordinary symptoms. 
Suppuration, and an unhealthy exhausting discharge were produced when- 
ever ergot was introduced into the cellular tissue. Given by the mouth 
three ounces proved fatal to a dog, the symptoms being those of an irritant 
poison accompanied with spasms, loss of sensibility, great muscular weak- 
ness, and a repulsive fetor of the excretions and secretions. (Dr. Wright, 
in " Edinburgh Medical Journal.") Rabbits are far less influenced by 
ergot than dogs, (1) because they are accustomed to a vegetable diet, 
and (2) because idiosyncrasy greatly modifies the action of narcotics on 
herbivorous animals. 


The cases of poisoning by ergot have chiefly arisen from its acciden- 
tal admixture with flour. The bread is wanting in firmness, and very 
soon becomes moist. Two distinctly different poisonous disorders have 
been produced by it, and may present themselves either singly or combined. 
(1) Nervous or convulsive ergotism. This occurred in Germany in 1770, 
and in Schleiben in 1831 and 1832. Giddiness, cramps, and convulsions 
were the prominent symptoms. The cases proved fatal within twenty-four 
hours, but seemed amenable to treatment if taken in time. (2) Gangren- 
ous ergotism (creeping sickness). This occurred in Switzerland in 1709 
and in 1716, and several times since in Germany. It begins with a pecu- 
liar creeping sensation, the limbs becoming insensible, and at last shrivel- 
ling up and dropping off at the joints (" Lancet," June 21, 1845). As a 
rule there are no premonitory symptoms. Ergot is much used in obstetric 
practice, and to arrest haemorrhages from various organs, and is often ad- 
ministered for the purpose of procuring abortion, from the remarkable 
power it possesses of promoting the contractions of the muscular coat of 
the gravid uterus. In the human subject the general symptoms of a 
poisonous dose are nausea, vomiting, delirium, and stupor, the pulse being 
diminished both in frequency and force. 

The amount of urine is increased under its influence, and this fact is im- 
portant, inasmuch as a loaded bladder may prove a serious hindrance to 
parturition. After death from ergot the bladder will probably be found 
very full. 

Poisonous Fungi. 

There are some varieties of fungi that, all the world over, are eaten with 
impunity, and probably the number perfectly harmless is larger than is 
usually supposed. Other varieties, however, are doubtful. One person will 
eat them without injury, whilst a mere taste will produce in another violent 
svmptorns of poisoning. And lastly, there are other varieties which, 
whether eaten by man or animals, are uniformly productive of alarming 
and dangerous effects. It is even asserted that if the edible varieties be 
eaten constantly and for a long period, bad constitutional results, such as 
external suppurations and gangrene, may be produced. This assertion, 
however, must be received with some caution, inasmuch as it is put forward 
almost entirely on the evidence afforded by a single case (Rust's Journal). 


1. is it possible to know by any external signs, whether a fungus may be 
Safely eatni or not t 

We are afraid not. The silver spoon becoming discolored when boiled 
with a poisonous mushroom is only "an old woman's tale." But as a gen- 
eral principle, it may be stated that all fungi growing in marshy situations, 
having a warty cap, and smelling offensively, with a green or scarlet hue 
(like the fly-mushroom, which, in parts, is of a rich orange-red color or 
that turn blue soon after being cut, or that are bitter to the taste and burn- 
ing to the throat, should be avoided. The peculiar fungus to which the 
vine disease is due, is said to have produced fatal symptoms even by inoc- 
ulation. ("British Medical Journal," November 4, 1865, p. 467.) 

We may quote here the following tabulation, by Professor Bentley, of 
the general characters of edible and poisonous mushrooms: 



1. Grow solitary in dry, airy places. 

2. Generally white or brownish. 

3. Have a compact brink* flesh. 

4. Do not change color when cut and exposed 

to the air. 

5. Juice watery. 

6. Odor agreeable. 

7. Taste neither bitter,astringent, acrid, nor salt. 

1. Grow in clusters, in woods, and dark, damp 


2. Usually of a bright color. 

3. Have a tough, soft, watery flesh. 

4. Change lo a brown, gre-^n, or blue tint when 

cut and exposed to the air. 

5. Juice often milky. 

6. Odor powerful and disagreeable. 

7. Taste either bitter, astringent, acrid, or salt. 

It is right, however, we should say that this table is apparently drawn 
up with the view of differentiating the common mushroom alone from 
the other species that may possibly be mistaken for it. There are, how- 
ever, species of fungi coming under almost all Beutley's dangerous cate- 
gory, which are reported to be excellent, whilst conversely there are some 
exceedingly poisonous without showing any of the dangerous signs de- 
scribed by him. (See Worthington Smith, Cooke, etc.) 

2. The commencement of the symptoms. 

There is in this matter an infinite variety, due, no doubt, to the different 
digestibility and states of preservation of the various forms of fungi. 
The same fungus will act differently on different people. 

(_';i~l's are on record where the symptoms have commenced in ten min- 
utes, thirty minutes, one hour and a half, two hours, two hours and a half; 
and in six, ten, twelve, twenty-four, thirty, and thirty-six hours. No rule, 
therefore, can be laid down. 

3. Symptoms. 

Fungi often act as narcotics ; intense coma being the prominent symptom. 
At other times they act as irritants; with pain, purging, and vomiting; 
whilst, again, they may act both as narcotics and irritants. And this dif- 
ference is not to be accounted for by the varying action of different species, 
for the same dish may produce the symptoms of an irritant in the one part 
of a family, and of a narcotic in the other. Giddiness, headache, dim- 
ness of sight, illusions, convulsions, and delirium are common symptoms. 

4. The circumstances that modify the action of fungi. 

These are not well understood. Some of the poisonous fungi at times do 
no harm — some edible ones, at other times, prove poisonous — some are 
said to be poisonous when fresh, but harmless when dried. 

(a) Cooking. The active principle of a poisonous mushroom is be- 
lieved to be volatile, and dissipated by the application of a 


moderate beat. It may in a great measure be got rid of either 
bv boiling in water, or by soaking the mushrooms, cut into 
slices, in brine or vinegar (" British Medical Journal," Nov. 
30, 1861, p. 585). 

G?) Idiosyncrasy. With some people all forms of fungi act injuri- 
ously ; some being even affected by a little ketchup. There is, 
however, nothing strange iu this circumstance, for to our cer- 
tain knowledge, this favorite sauce often contains the juice of, 
at any rate, more than one form of fungus. 

(y) Climate. Some species are commonly eaten in Prussia and 
Russia which are never eaten in France, whilst there are many 
that are eaten in France which we regard as poisonous in 

(<5) Weather. Fodere states that the common morelle becomes injuri- 
ous after a long rain. (?) 

(e) Season. It is asserted that the eatable mushroom becomes un- 
safe when the season is far advanced. (?) 

5. The active principles "upon which the injurious action of fungi depends. 

This has been investigated by various experimenters. 

Braconnot states that fungi contain a variety of principles, differing in 
different species, but consisting generally of an acrid resin, a saccharine 
body, and a spongy principle that he calls fuugin, to which, however, he 
does not attribute their poisonous properties. 

Letellier believes there are two active principles in fungi : 

(a) An acrid volatile principle, to which he attributes their irritant 
properties, and which, being volatile, disappears when the 
fungus is dried or boiled in water. 

(,3) An alkaloid (amanitiu), to which he attributes the narcotic 
symptoms. It is a more fixed body than the former, and forms 
salts with acids. Secard also believes in the existence of this 

The Agaricus muscarius is said to contain a peculiar alkaloid (2 grs. to 
2 lbs. of the agaric) called muscarin (MM. Schmeideberg and Koppe). 
Its action is said closely to resemble calabar bean. It produces an extra- 
ordinary contraction of the pupil, and paralysis. (Vide "Lancet," Nov. 
20, 1869, p. 712.) 

6. Results. 

Many cases recover, especially if there has been early vomiting. In 
one case a man is reported to have suffered more or less for a year. 
Death takes place, however, usually within twenty-four hours, although it 
may be delayed for two or three days. Iu one recorded case the patient 
for a time got fairly well, and then had a relapse and died. Death is 
often ushered in by a convulsive fit. 

7. Treatment. 

Emetics of sulphate of zinc, the use of the stomach-pump, and castor 
oil are indicated. There is no chemical antidote to the fungus poison, and 
so the treatment must consist in getting it out of the system as speedily as 
possible. It may be as well to note again how difficult and tedious the 
digestibility of fungi usually appears to be. After the fungus has been 


got out of the stomach, coma or inflammation, if they set in, must be 
treated on general principles. 
8. Post-mortem Appearances. 

The stomach and intestines are often found intensely inflamed, and even 
gangrenous. The vessels of the brain are usually deeply congested and 
the liver enlarged. 

Examination in a Case of Mushroom Poisoning. 

The authors are indebted to Dr. Paxton, of Chichester, for the following 
hints : 

If possible endeavor to discover portions of the mushroom itself in the 
contents of the stomach. If such pieces are found, the gills should be 
scraped, and the scrapings examined with a miseroscope (j in.") for spores. 
If no pieces can be obtained, then search should be made for the spores in 
the deposit as well as in the fluid contents, taking drops for this purpose 
from the surface, from the lower layer, and from the bulk of the liquid. 
The following facts should be noted, and are worth recording : 

(1) The spores are small bodies (generally about 0.0003 in. diameter), 
having unusually sharp outlines, and very much more defined than is usual 
with animal structures. 

2 The spores are not materially affected by frying, or even by boiling 
in glycerin. 

(3) The spores of the same species of fungi are very definite in shape 
and appearance. 

4 The spores of the common mushroom are oval, and dark slate- 
colored, and very like those of some of the poisonous species (hypholoraa). 

(5) The discovery of pink irregular spores (entoloma i, or of rusty brown 
irregular spores (hebeloma), or of round white prickly spores (russula, 
lactarii i, would be strong evidence that a poisonous mushroom had been 

(6) The discoverv of plain round spores would prove nothing beyond 
the fact that a mushroom had been eaten, such spores being found both in 
edible and poisonous mushrooms. 

We must refer to one other matter deserving attention, that is, the pos- 
sibility of a mushroom being the vehicle for the administration of a poison 
by a criminal in order to disarm suspicion ; and, therefore, where there is 
any reason to suspect unfair dealing, the symptoms must be carefully 
studied, and a complete analysis made to see whether any poison other 
than the fungus is present. 

Cases of Poisoning by various forms of Fungi. 

CASE 1. — "London Medical and Physiological Journal," vol. xxxvi, p. 451. Male: adult. Eat 
stewed Agaricus companu'atus. 

Symptoms. — In ten minutes he was attacked with giddiness, dimness of vision, debility, trem- 
blings, loss of memory. Extreme drowsiness came on. (An emetic was given) ; the next day he was 
tolerably well. 

Rasult. — Recovery. 

CASE 2. — '■Annali Universali di Medicina," 1842, vol. i, p. 549. Male: aet. 14. Agaricus pan- 

Symptoms. — In two hours was seized with delirium and convulsions ; and afterwards intense coma. 
(Soon recovered under the use of emetics.) 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.— Corvisart, "Journal de Medecine," vol. xxxi, p. 323. Four soldiers. Eat Amanita 


Symptoms. — All were taken ill within six hours with griping pains, thirst, and a sense of suffoca- 
tion. The abdomen became swollen, and a profuse fetid diarrhoea came on. Delirium and death 
occurred in all four. Several others were affected, in some cases the coma lasting for twenly-four 

Result— Death. 

CASE 4.— Orfila, " Toxicologie," vol. ii, p. 433- Man, wife, servant, and three children. Eat 
Amanita citrina. 

Symptoms. — The wife, the servant, and oneof the children, had vomiting followed by deep coma, 
from which they afterwards recovered. The husband had violent diarrhoea, and also recovered. The 
other two children had profound coma, and died. 

Result— Death and recovery. 

CASE 5.— Christison, p. 925. Six persons: 2 adults, 4 children. Eat Hypopkyllum sanguineum 
{paddock stool). 

Symptoms. — Symptoms set in after periods varying from twelve to thirty hours. 1. Child (set.7) had 
acute abdominal pain and swelling ; succeeded by coma. Convulsions and death occurred in a tetanic 
paroxysm. 2. Child 'set. 10). Death in still more violent convulsions. 3. Mother had vomiting and 
bloody stools. Death in thirty-six hours, comatose. 4. Child died on the third duy, after a relapse, 
with convulsions. 5. Child had colic and delirium, but recovered. 6. Father had an attack of dysen- 
tery, was speechless for three days, and recovered, but was not well afterwards for more than a 

Result.— Death and recovery. 

CASE 6.—" Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," vol. xlix, p. 192 (Dr. Peddie). (1) Male: 
adult. (2) Male : set. 13. Eat the Agaricus procerus. 

Symptoms. — In thirty minutes both appeared giddy as if intoxicated, and in one hour there was 
perfect insensibility. Sensibility returned ifter the use of stimulants and the stomach-pump. Con- 
vulsive spasms came on, and furious delirium. The bowels were not affected, nor was there any 
pain. During sleep the pupils were contracted, but dilated on waking. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 7.—" Medical Times and Gazette," November 21, 1868, p. 536 (Mr. Taylor, Emsworth). Male : 
set. 13. 

Symptoms. — In ten or eleven hours after eating two fungi the bry felt ill, and vomited ; this was 
followed by purging, and pains in the abdomen; great tenderness, constant vomiting, thirst, and 
great depression. Death took place in forty-four hours after eating the fungi, and thirty-four from 
the beginning of symptoms. Others eat the same fuugi and did not suffer. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Left ventricle contracted and empty ; lungs healthy; stomach and small intestine 
much injected. 

CASE 8.— Huseman, " Jahresbericht," 1872, p. 534. Male: set. 43. Female: set. 5. Eat the 
Amanita panthernia. 

Symptoms.— Symptoms of faintness, delirium, and nausea appeared in two hours and a half ; in 
eleven hours stupor and abdominal tenderness. In the child the pupils were contracted. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 9.— "Lancet," October 4. 1873, p. 501. Female. A female died from poisonous mushrooms, 
and the man who gave them was tried for murder at the Central Criminal Court. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 10. — "Lancet," October 25, 1851, p. 384. Two adults. Eat mushrooms for dinner. 

Symptoms.— Violent pains in a few hours. Died in horrible agony the following morning. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 11. — " Lancet," September 18, 1852, p. 273. Two persons eat some mushrooms (?) for supper. 

Symptoms. — The next morning they were seized with violent symptoms, and died in great agony. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 12.—" British Medical Journal," June 27, 1863, p. 672 (Dr. Mitchell). Two adults. 

Symptoms. — Great pain and distension in stomach; dimness of sight ; no vomiting or purging. 
After the action of a good purge both recovered, but for a time suffered from nervous twitchiugs. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 13.— "British Medical Journal," October 24, 1863, p. 461 (Mr. Sadler). Spores of Lycoper- 
don giganteum (puff-ball). 
Symptoms.— Violent symptoms set in in half an hour. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 14.— "Lancet," March 29, 1862, p. 325 (Dr. O'Connor). Male : set 7. Toadstools. 
Symptoms. — Collapse; insensibility; vomiting, dilated pupils ; intense prostration. 
Result— Recovery. 

Other cases of Poisoning by different forms of Fungi are recorded as follows : 

"Guy's Hospital Reports," 1872, p. 228. 
"Medical Gazette," vol. xxv, p. 110. 

"Medical Times and Gazette," October 26, 1861, p. 443. (Recovery.) 
" " October 18, 1851, p. 423. (Mushrooms.) 


"British Medical JourDal," January 19, 1861, p. 78. (Deaths.) 
" •' " September 14, 1861, p. 288 

" " " November 30. 1861, p. 5S5. (Nineeases^ 

11 August SI, 1SG1, p. 239. (Three men died within twenty-four hours 

from eating mushrooms. Convulsions.) 
" " " Oclober 10, 24, 81, Noveuiher 21, December 5, 1374, pp. 464, 524, 555, 645, 



Hebradendron Gambogioides. (Fig. 30.) 

(Garciuia Morella.) 

The gura-resin of this plant, called gamboge, is a bright-yellow, hard, 
brittle substance. It has no smell, and when first put into the mouth has 
but little taste. 

FlB. 30. 

The gum-resin (gamboge) contains 75 to 80 per cent, of a resin called 
gambogic acid (C^H^O,), and from 20 to 25 per cent, of gum. 

The gum is soluble in water, the resin remaining suspended. The resin 
is soluble in alcohol, but is reprecipitated ou adding water. 

Gamboge is an irritant poison. It forms an important ingredient of most 
quack pills. One drachm has proved fatal to an adult, but large doses 
seem to have been administered in some cases without any bad effects 

Orfila, Schubarth, and Wigmer have experimented with it on animals. 
Two drachms killed a sheep, and a drachm and a half a dog. If it be 
not secured in the stomach, however, large doses can be given without in- 
jurious results, because of the free vomiting induced. One ounce had no 
effect on a horse, but 18 grains were found to kill a rabbit in twenty-four 
hours. Great inflammatory action was produced when the poison was ap- 
plied to a wound. 


Lolium Temulenium. 

(Bearded Darnel.) 

The cases of poisoning recorded with darnel have been invariably due 
to the accidental admixture of the seeds with wheat. It is stated that 
chickens will eat darnel seeds without any injurious results being produced. 
Bley, of Bemburg, has obtained from them a bitter extractive matter, 
which proved fatal to a pigeon. 

The symptoms usually manifested are headache, a staggering intoxica- 


tion, general tremors, paralysis, great sleepiness, impaired vision, and 

Sometimes, however, its action seems to be entirely that of an irritant 
poison, without any admixture of narcotic symptoms. 

As a rule patients recover. 

Case of Poisoning by the Lolium Temulenium (Darnel). 

CASE 1. — "Edinburgh Monthly Journal," August, 1850, p. 180, and Taylor's "Medical Jurispru- 
dence," vol. ii, p. 397. (Dr. Kingsley.) Thirty persons eat bread containing darnel seeds mixed 
accidentally with the Hour of which it was made. 

Symptoms.— Giddiness: symptoms similar to those of delirium tremens; impaired vision ; great 
prostration ; in some cases vomiting. 

Result. — All recovered in twenty-four hours. 

CASE 2.— Christison, p. 945. Eighty persons at Sheffield attacked after eating oatmeal, believed 
to contain darnel. 
Symptoms. — Great agitation of limbs; confimon of sight; dilated pupils; convulsions in two cases. 
Result.— All recovered in twelve hours. 

CASE 3. — Christison, p. 945. A farmer, his wife, and a servant eat bread made of flour contain- 
ing 1 part wheat and 5 parts darnel seed. 

Symptoms. — All were violently affected with vomiting and purging ; both the farmer and the ser- 
vant died as if from colic ; the wife recovered. 

Result. — Two died. One recovered. 


Camphora Officinarum. Camphor (C 10 H ]6 O). 
(Common or Laurel Camphor.) 

(There is another variety called Borneo Camphor (C^H^O) obtained 
from the Dryobalanops aromatica. It is heavier thau water.) 

Camphor floats in water (sp. gr. 0.98). It is a colorless, transparent, 
crystalline solid, and has a cool pungent taste. It readily and completely 
sublimes by heat. 

It is slightly soluble in water (forty grains per gallon), its solubility 
being increased by the addition of tincture of myrrh. It is very soluble 
in alcohol, but the camphor is thrown down when water is added to the 
solution. It is also soluble in ether and chloroform, and in the fixed and 
volatile oils. 

Camphor is a concrete volatile oil. Nitric acid changes it to camphoric 

Symptoms — Dose. 

The ordinary effects of an overdose of camphor are giddiness with im- 
perfect sight, cramps, numbness of the extremities, apparent intoxication, 
difficult}' of breathing, thirst, aud sometimes convulsions. Recovery is 
generally preceded by a long deep sleep, during which there is profuse 
perspiration, the patient waking up in a state of intense exhaustion. 

If the poison has been given in solid pieces we may expect to meet with 
the general symptoms of an irritant poison. Usually the odorof camphor 
will be detected in the breath. 

In nearly all cases recovery is recorded. Thirty grains have proved fatal 
in seven hours to a child one and a half years old. Severe effects have 
apparently resulted from small doses (Dr. Johnson), although it is recorded 
that doses of ninety grains, repeated four times daily, have been taken 
without bad results (Christison). 

Post-mortem Appearances. 
The membranes of the brain are usually found to be injected, and the 


stomach and bowels inflamed, with considerable congestion of the genito- 
urinary tract. 

Experiments on Animals. 

From the experiments of Orfila and Scudery we learn that when cam- 
phor was given to dogs in solution, tetanic convulsions, accompanied by 
a wild active delirium were produced. Camphor fumes were given off" by 
the mouth. An intense coma generally succeeded, and after this, death 
was rapid. When the camphor was administered in solid pieces, no con- 
vulsions were produced, whilst death was slow, and resulted chiefly from 
inflammation of the stomach and alimentary canal. Twenty grains dis- 
solved in olive oil and injected into the jugular vein, killed a dog in ten 
minutes (Orfila). 

After death a smell of camphor was noticeable throughout the whole 
body. The geni to-urinary tract was very congested. When solid camphor 
had been given, great inflammation was found in the stomach and intes- 
tines. Arterial blood was found in the left side of the heart, and cam- 
phor was detected in the blood itself (Lebiikchner). 


The treatment must consist mainly in the administration of emetics (for 
to get rid of the poison is the first thing to be done), and after this a full 
dose of castor oil. 

In conducting a medicolegal inquiry, carefully examine all parts for 
the peculiar camphor odor, and also search for undissolved portions of the 
poison, which are not unlikely to be present because of its imperfect solu- 
bility. The solid contents should then be acted upon with strong alcohol 
and filtered, when, on the addition of water to the alcoholic solution, the 
camphor will be precipitated, and maybe recognized by its smell and gen- 
eral characters. 

Cases of Poisoning with Camphor. 

CASE 1. — Christison, p. 909. Male adult. 5ss. used as an iujection. 

Symptoms. — Uneasiness set in iu a few minutes; considerable weakness and numbness remained 
for some time. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 2. — Cbristison, p. 910 (Dr. Eickhorn). Male adult. Sij taken in small doses during three 

Symptoms. — Heat ; palpitation ; pleasant intoxication ; sleep and perspiration ; no bad results fol- 
lowed except debility. 

Remit. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.— Christison, p. 910 (W p endt,of Breslau). Male adult. 160 grs. in solution in alcohol. 

Sympfoms.-^>o vomiting. The patient was a drunkard; great pain in the stomach ; giddiness; 
some delirium ; a difficulty of passing water remained for some days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 4.—" Lancet," Sep. 24, 1842 (Mr. Hallett). Female adult. Twenty grains in spirit with tinc- 
ture of myrrh. 

Symptoms. — Immediate intoxication; delirium; occasional loss of sight; pupils natural; numb- 
ness of extremities; no pain. She got much better under treatment, but had a relapse after twenty- 
four hours from which she recovered, with occasional attacks of dyspnoea. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 5.—" Lancet," Nov. 22, 1873, p. 740 (Dr. G. Johnson). Female : at. 20. Twenty-five drops of 
Epps's Concentrated Solution <= ?,j of camphor to 5ss. alcohol). 

Symptoms. — Violent couvulsions; foaming at mouth; bloody vomiting and severe pain came oil 
very soon ; partial paralysis continued for several days, and nervous symptoms for six months. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 6.— "Lancet," Nov. 22, 1873, p. 740 (Dr. G. Johnson). Male adult. 5m. of above solution 
taken every five minutes for one hour. 

Symptoms. — Intense headache and extreme prostration, preventing him doing his work for two 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 7.—" Lancet," Nov. 22, 1873, p. 740 (Dr. G. Johnson). Female : set. 19. A teaspnonfnl of 
above solution. 

Symptoms, — Coma; lasting for several days. 

Moult. — Recovery. 

CASE 8— "Berliner Klin. Wochenschrift," Sept. 1, 1873 (Dr. Klingelhoffer). Female adult. Thirty 

Symptoms. — Immediate giddiness; intense pain; tremors; camphorous odor of breath. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 9.— "British Medical Journal," Dec. 6, 1873, p. 67 (Dr. Allbutt). Male: set. 28, About twenty 
drops of homoeopathic solution. 

Symptoms. — Great giddiness ; headache; nausea; considerable lethargy ; recovery. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 10.—" Bull, de Ther.," vol. lxxvi, p. 379. Child. Twenty-six grains. 

Symptoms. — Twitch inga of countenance ; efforts at vomiting; cold perspiration; convulsions; 
stupor and retention of urine (coffee administered). 

Result. — Recovery in six hours. 

CASE 11.— "Medical Times and Gazette," June 25, 1859, p. 658 (Dr. Braithwaite). Male. Large 
dose (about thirty grains) for gleet. 

Symptoms. — Furious delirium in about one hour; pupils dilated; symptoms aggravated when a 
light was brought near the patient , in twenty minutes became very quiet, but muttered incohe- 
rently. In four hours and a half afterwards he was well. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 12.—" Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 18, 1853, p. 645. Male. Over two hundred grains 
taken every morning fasting. 

Symptoms.— No effect until the fourth day, when gastric pains set in. On the fifth day he doubled 
the dose, and took one at night as well as one in the morning; Intense pain in the head came on ; 
appeared intoxicated; became insensible; after an emetic sensibility returned; he then slept for 
twenty-four hours and woke up well. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 13.— "British Medical Journal," Feb 2,1867. Male: fet. 20. Camphorated oil. 

Symptoms. — Became insensible in two hours and a half; opisthotonos; (.ipecacuanha and cold ap- 
plications to the head were used). 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 14. — Guy's " Forensic Med.," p 519. Male adult. Twenty grains in spirit. 

Symptoms. — Immediate giddiness ; fits of laughter ; cramp; loss of voice; great debility. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 15. — "British Medical Journal," March 14, 1S63. .Et. fifteen months. A teaspoonfil of 
camphorated oil. 

Symptoms. — Convulsions and vomiting. 

Resu't. — Death in thirteen hours. 

CASE 16.— "Journal de Chimie Medicale," 1850, p. 507. Three children. &t. 3, 5, X%. Thirty 
grains to each child. 

Symptoms. — Delirium; great thirst; vomiting, purging, and convulsions. 

Result. — Two children recovered. The youngest died in seven hours ; comatose. 

CASE 17. — "Medical Gazette," vol. ii, p. 772. Male, 5ij. 

Symptoms.— Exhilaration; profound sleep ; profuse perspiration during sleep; and great exhaus- 
tion afterwards. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 18.— Christison, p. 909. Male. 5ij. 

Symp'oms. — Very languid and restless after twenty minutes; in one hour became^confused and 
giddy; at last lost consciousness, and convulsions set in; (an emetic was admiuistered, which 
brought away nearly all the camphor.) 

Result, — Recovery. 

See also oiher Cases of Poisoning by Camphor as follows : 

'•Medical Times," July 11, 1S46, p. 2S5. Male: let. 20. 5ij of camphor. 
"Medical Gazette," vol. xlviii, p. 552. 5j used as an enema. 


Arachis Hypogaa. 

(Ground Nut — Denua Nut — Munduli.) 

This nut, which conies from the West Coast of Africa, is shaped like an 
hourglass, reticulated externally, and contains two brown beans. 

It is recorded (" Lancet," July 19, 1873) that they sometimes prove 


dangerous, — vomiting, diarrhoea, drowsiness, and dilated pupils being pro- 
duced. The authors believe that these nuts are perfectly harmless. 

Cytisiu Laburnum. 

All parts of the plant — wood, bark, leaves, flowers, pods, and seeds — 
act as narcotico-acrid poisons. Its activity is due to the alkaloid " cytmn," 
which is said to be the active principle of the Australian or Persian insect- 
powder. It has no well-marked chemical properties. 

The decoction of laburnum bark turns olive-green when acted upon 
with a persalt of iron. 

The symptoms produced by it usually set in rapidly. Purging, vomit- 
ing, extreme restlessness, afterwards drowsiness and insensibility, with con- 
vulsive twitchings, are commonly recorded. Death has occurred from the 
seeds in six days, and from the bark in thirteen hours. 

Christison found that twenty to seventy grains of the dried bark caused 
vomiting in a dog, and that an infusion of one drachm, given to a rabbit, 
caused tetanic convulsions, emprosthotonos and opisthotonos alternating. 

Cases of Poisoning 6y Laburnum (wood, bark, flowers, seeds, root). 

CASE 1.—" British Medical Journal," January 22, 1870, p. 79 (Mr. Wheelhouse). Female : set. 514. 
Laburnum seeds. Eaten during three days. 

Symptoms. — Symptoms of irritant poisoning; iutellect clear; after a time there was slight drowsi- 
ness; extreme restlessness continued for three days, when she seemed to get better, but after two 
days more she became worse, the terrible restlessness being the most marked symptom. 

Result. — Death in six days. 

CASE 2.— "Medical Times and Gazette," September 13, 1S62, p. 293 (Dr. Ussher), "Pharmaceu- 
tical Journal," October 1S52, p. 185. Male: set. 11. Male: set. 12. Cake flavored with laburnum 

Symptoms. — In one case there was vomiting, pain, muscular twitchings, dilated pupils, but no head- 
ache ; clammy perspirations ; became very sleepy and very cold ; symptoms set in in from thirty to 
forty-five minutes. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3— Christison, p. 947 (Dr.Traill). 2 seeds. 

Symptoms. — Insensibility ; coldness of body ; free vomiting was induced, and the next day the 
child was well. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 4— Christison, p. 947 (Dr. Traill). Boy. Seeds. 

Symptoms. — Complete insensibility ; feeble pulse, and froth at mouth; (an emetic was given). 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 5.— Christison, p.947 <Dr. BigsbyV Female: child. Seeds. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting; purging; recovery in forty-eight hours. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 6— Christison, p. 947 (Dr. Annan). Boy. Seeds. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting and drowsiness. For a month suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 7 — -Lancet," September 18, IS69. Female : child. The seeds. 

Symptoms. — Great pain. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 8.—" Lancet," January 9, 1841, p. 52 (Mr. Bonney). (11 cases.) (I) Male . set. 9. 1 seed. (2) 
Male: set. 9. 1 seed. (3) Male : set. 9. 4 st-eds. (4) Male: set. 8. 4 seeds. (5 1 Male: set. 6. oseeds. 
[6 Male: set. 9. 1 seed. 7 Male- set. 9. 5 seeds. iS) Male: set. 8. 1 seed. (91 Male: set. 7. 1 
seed. 1 10 . Male: set- 8. 1 seed. Ul> Male: set. 7. 1 seed. 

Symp'oms. — Nos. 9. 10, and 11 scarcely suffered at all. No. 8 vomited and was soon well. No. 2 had 
well-marked dilated pupils. Nos. 7 and 8 vomited and were purged. Nos. 1 and 2 sleeplessness. Nos. 
4 and 5 a combination of all the symptoms. In the remainder there was merely nausea and feeble- 
ness uf pulse. 

Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 9.—" Lancet," November 1, 1S56, p. 497. Seeds. 

Symptoms — Twelve children at Otley (Yorkshire) were seized with rigidity of limbs from swal- 
lowing the seeds. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 10.—" Lancet," September 16, 1871, vol. ii, p. 396 (Mr. Wilson). Male : set. 4. 10 seeds. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in half an hour; in two hours drowsiness and convulsions; pupils largely 
dilated ; pulse small; body cold ; recovered the next day. 

Result.— Recovery. 

(II.) BARK. 

CASE 11.— "Lancet," January 11, 1S6S, p. 45, January 18, 1868, p. S6 [Mr. Wilson). Male: iet.6. 
From chewing bark of laburnum. 

Symptoms. — In about six hours symptoms of irritant poisoning set in ; constant vomiting; slept 
between attacks of sickness; a fit came on before death, which occurred about thirteen hours after 
chewing the bark of the tree. 

Remit. — Death in thirteen hours. 

Post-mortem. — Jaws flenched ; pupilsdilnted ; no inflammation apparent in the stomach, or in two- 
thirds of the dundenum. or in the large intestines, hut from the lower part of the duodenum to the 
end of the ileum the inflammation was intense; blood fluid; lungs, heart, and brain healthy ; none 
of the poison was found, as no doubt it had all been vomited. 

CASE 12.—" Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal," October. 1843 (Sir R. Christison). Female. 
Some of the bark given by a young man in broth to a fellow-servant. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting in five minutes, and continued for thirty-six hours, with pain, shivering, 
and purging. These last symptoms continued more or less foreight months; at this time there was 
gastro-intestinal irritation; purging; bloody evacuations. She recovered eventually. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 13.— "Lancet," 1«70, p. 182 (Mr. Tinley, Whitby). Female: set. 18. Sucked a piece of bark. 

Symptoms. — Felt unwell in half an hour. Next day there was pain, nausea, and thirst; dilated 
pupils; sense of fainting and exhaustion : no purging; recovered in fourteen days. 

Result. — Recovery. 

im.) FLOWERS. 

CASE 14.— "Guy's Hospital Reports," October, 1850, p. 219. .Et. 3. 12 laburnum flowers. 

Symptoms. — Sickness and pain in fifteen minutes ; free vomiting of the flowers ; no purging.- 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 15. — "Medical and Physiological Journal," vol. Ixii, p. 86 (Mr. North). Female: aet. 4. 

Symptoms. — Convulsive twitch in gs of muscles of the face ; cold skin; laborious respiration at- 
tempts to vomit ; (vomiting induced by emetics). 

Result. — Recovery. 

(IV.) PODS. 

CASE 16— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 444 (Mr. Rake). Two children, ^t.2; 
set. 3. Laburnum pods. 

Symptoms. — Turned very pale, with slow pulse ; pupils natural. Vomiting, when the seeds were 

Result.— Recovery. 

(V. ) ROOT. 

CASE 17.— "Medical Times and Gazette," January 3, 1857, p. 7 (Dr. L. Sedgwick). Male: set. 8. 
The root eaten by mistake for liquorice. 

Symptom*. — The boy vomited in one hour and a quarter; great giddiness and prostration; no 
pain, convulsions, or headache. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASK 18.—" Medical Times and Gazette," January 3, 1857, p. 7 (Dr. L. Sedgwick). Female : Eet. 10. 
The root eaten by mistake for liquorice. 

Symptoms.— The girl had taken three times as much as the boy fin case No. 17). In one hour 
vomiting and great prostration set in ; giddiness and drowsiness ; no headache or convulsions. 

Result. — Recovery. 

See for other cases of Poisoning by Laburnum as follows : 
"British Medical Journal," October 10, 1863, p. 408. , Death. 
"British Medical Journal," July 21, 1S66, p. 86. Death. 

Phy80stigma venenosum. (Fig. 31.) 

(The Ordeal Beau — Calabar Bean.) 

The Calabar bean is sent to this country from Western Africa. It is 
known as the Ordeal bean, from the circumstance that the African natives 
compel people accused of witchcraft to drink a decoction of the bean, in 

the belief that if they are innocent, it will be vomited, but that if guilty, 



Fig. 31. 

the poison will be retained, and cause death. ("British Medical Journal," 
October 19, 18(57, p. 341.) 

Its use is almost confined to ophthalmic surgeons for effecting contrac- 
tion of the pupil. 

The bean, which is somewhat 
thicker than our garden beau, is 
about one to one and a half iu- 
ches long, and a half to three- 
fourths of an inch wide, and 
weighs from 90 to 120 graius. 
It consists of two distinct parts: 
(1) The outer shell, which is 
hard, brink', and claret-colored, 
weighing from 60 to 70 grains; 
and, (2 1, the kernel, which is 
white, without smell or taste, and 
weighing from 30 to 50 grains. 
Touched with nitric acid, it be- 
comes orange, and with per- 
ehloride of iron, brown. This 
white portion is the active part 
of the bean, its activity being 
due to an alkaloid, called Phy- 
sostigmiu. About 2.7 per cent, 
of the bean is soluble in alcohol, 
the undissolved portion being 
physiologically inert. 


(Physostigmin — Eserin — Eserina.) 

This alkaloid exists exclusively in the cotyledons, 
crystalline solid, somewhat bitter, and without smell, 
wood state that it is a yellowish-brown or red amorphous body. 

Water dissolves it very slightly, but it is freely soluble in alcohol, ether, 
chloroform, or benzol, 
follows : 

It is a colorless, 
Bentlev and Red- 

It forms salts with acids. Its reactions are as 

(a) Its solution in water, after caustic soda or potash has been added, 
will, upon exposure to air, change in color to a green or blue. 

(,5) A red color is produced, on adding to the solution ether bromine- 
water, or bromine in bromide of potassium (Drageudortf ). 

It is stated that the nascent oxygen tests produce somewhat similar 
results to those of strychnia (Dr. J. 15. Edwards). This statement, how- 
ever, requires further investigation. Of all tests for Physostigruia, or for 
the Calabar bean, the physiological test is by far the most delicate and 
important. The merest trace dropped into the eye of a rabbit causes con- 
traction of the pupil in from ten to fifteen minutes. 

Experiments on Animals. 

For these we are indebted mainly to Dr. Fraser (" Edinburgh Royal 
Society Transactions," vol. xxiv), and to Sir R. Christison (" Pharma- 
ceutical Journal," 1855, p. 474). Christison found that twenty-one grains 
of the powder given to a dog produced great and immediate weakness, 
paralysis after about four minutes, and death in five. Slight muscular 


twitching was observed. Iu a second case, two grains of the alcoholic ex- 
tract produced immediate weakness, paralysis in two minutes, and death 
iu three. 

Fraser has examined the symptoms produced by the poison with great 
minuteness. He finds it proves fatal to every animal except the Esere 

A large dose produces instantaneous paralysis of the hind legs, contracted 
pupils, increased secretion from the mouth and nose, whilst an absence of 
reflex action is noticeable. The paralysis spreads rapidly to the muscles 
of respiration, aud the animal dies quickly. After death the pupils 

A smaller, but fatal dose, produces at first a slight tremor of the hind 
legs, passing on to complete paralysis. The urine and faeces pass involun- 
tarily. The pupils contract, and frothy mucus flows from the mouth. The 
animal remains conscious; but reflex action seems entirely gone. Muscular 
twitchings have been generally noticed, amounting at times almost to 
convulsions. The breathing before death becomes stertorous aud gasping. 
The pupils dilate after death. 

It has been noticed with large doses (except they are very excessive, 
when actual cardiac paralysis may be produced) that the heart retains its 
irritability for some time after death, whilst after poisoning by moderate 
doses the muscles contract when cut, aud the vermicular action of the 
intestines continues for some time. The lungs are invariably gorged. 

These experiments prove that the Calabar been belongs to the same 
class as couium, aud kills by apncea. It will be noted that, physiologically, 
it has a strictly reverse action to strychnia; strychnia being a true spinal 
excitant, and Calabar bean a direct spinal depressant. For this reason 
the Calabar bean has been given in tetanus. 


For our knowledge of symptoms we are mainly indebted to some 
dangerous experiments made by Sir R. Christison on himself. On takiug 
six grains of the seed, he states that he felt no effect, except a little 
numbness; but that when he ventured on twelve grains, he felt giddy and 
drowsy after twenty minutes. He then took an emetic ; but although it 
acted freely, the giddiness increased, and was accompanied by extreme 
faintness and prostration. The heart was feeble and irregular, but he 
suffered neither pain, numbness, nor pricking. The mind was perfectly 
clear. With stimulants Sir Robert got better, and was able to move 
about a little ; but after a time, feeling a desire to sleep, he was allowed 
to doze for two hours. The sleep he describes as " conscious sleep ; " so 
much so, that upon awaking, he did not know he had been asleep at all. 
Next day he felt quite well. 

The symptoms of a poisonous dose may be thus stated : First, there is 
giddiness, passing on to paralysis of the voluntary muscles. Often there 
are muscular twitches of a convulsive nature, aud invariably contraction 
of the pupil, preceded by myopia. The mind is generally clear. At last, 
if the case ends fatally, the respiratory muscles become affected, and the 
person dies asphyxiated. 

Respecting the contraction of the pupils, Bouchardat found that one 
drop of the extract applied to the eye of an animal produced contraction 
of the pupil in from ten to fifteen minutes. Aud this will be the great 
diagnostic symptom, distinguishing the action of the poison from that of 
atropia, conia, daturia, or hyoscyamus. 

"La France Medicale " states that M. Bouchat has given it in doses of 


two to five milligrammes (= 5 ' 7 to Jj of a grain) 437 times, either by mouth 
or subeutaneously, in cases of chorea occurring in young girls, aged eight 
to twelve years. He finds that the disease requires ten days' treatment 
on an average by this method. The larger dose (administered subeutane- 
ously) produced pain, tendency to cry, desire to vomit hindered by the 
almost complete paralysis of the diaphragm, sweating, cramps, and loss of 
muscular power, without any affection of sensation or intelligence. The 
choreic movements were checked, and never recurred so violently. These 
symptoms lasted about three hours. Neither contraction of the pupils 
nor the convulsions noticed in animals were observed. Although the pupils 
were carefully noted, thev were only found to be small in two cases. Small 
doses produced vomiting, but the paralysis of the diaphragm, etc., was less 
marked. About t.'j of a grain seems a useful dose for a child of ten or 
twelve years (= 3 milligrammes), and may be given twice or three times 
in the course of the twenty-four hours. 

As regards the state of the pupils, see the note to Morphia (apropos of 
the celebrated " Affaire Castaing"). 

Six of the beans have proved fatal to a boy aged six. 

Emetics and the stomach-pump must be used. From their antagonistic 
action it has been recommended to inject one-thirtieth of a grain of atropia 
hypodermically, gradually increasing the dose, until dilatation of the pupils 
is induced. So far as the pupil is concerned, of course there is a direct 
antagonism between these two bodies; but we do not consider that such 
treatment is allowable. 

Cases of Poisoning with the Calabar henn. 

CASE 1.— "Lancet," Aug. 27, 1S64. p. 245, "Medical Times and Gazette," Aug. 15 and 20,1864. 
Seventy children in Liverpool eat some beans which had been swept up in a ship that had come 
from Africa. One boy, set. 6, who had eaten six beans, died. 

SymiAoms. — There was pain ; vomiting; staggering as if intoxicated, and contracted pupils. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE i.—* Edinburgh Monthly Journal," 1864, p. 193. JEt.6. Eat the kernel of one nut. 

Symptoms. — Sickness in forty minutes ; sleepiness ; hands powerless ; staggering; pain in stomach ; 
pupils contracted. Recovered on third day. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 3.—" Edinburgh Monthly Journal," ISM, p. 193. JE\. 3. Eat the kernel of one nut. 

Symptoms. — Sleepini ss, depression, and pain in the abdomen ; pupils and pulse natural ; purging. 
Recovered on third day. 

Result. — Recovery. 


Aloe vulgaris, eto. 

(Barbadoes and other Aloes.) 

"Aloes" is the inspissated juice issuing from the cut leaves of the dif- 
ferent species. " Barbadoes aloes" has a dull-brown color, a bitter taste, 
and a nauseous odor; " Socotrine aloes" has a bright-red color, a bitter 
taste, and a faint, but somewhat agreeable odor. 

Aloes is an ingredient of most quack pills ; as, e. g., " Morrison's Pills ;"* 
as well as of " the Holy Bitter" ("Hiera Picra," or "aloetic powder"), 
which consists of four parts of aloes, and one of canella bark. The hiera 
picra has been usually taken for the purpose of effecting abortion. (Reg. 
c. White, Aylesbury Assizes, 1857.) The aloes is the chief ingredient that 
possibly may act on the uterus, not, however, by any specific influence, but 
by its action upon the lower bowel, and the general upset that it causes to 
the constitution. 

* Fatal cases said to be produced bv Morrison's .Pills are recorded |" Lancet " 
Sept. 8, 1838, p. 846; July 20, 1830, p. 63-3). 


Aloes dissolves in spirit, crystals after a time being precipitated. 
In all varieties the active principle of the drug is — 

Aloin (C M H - M H 1 0). 

Aloin is a neutral body, and is found in that portion of the aloes which 
is soluble, in water. 

It crystallizes in the form of needles. 

It is a glucoside. By the action of acid, glucose and aloetic acid is formed. 
A second glucoside is also present in that portion of the aloes which is 
insoluble in water. 

Cold sulphuric acid turns it yellow, the color changing to green when 
warmed. Nitric acid turns it orange, polychromic and other acids being 

Aloes also contains a resin, which, unlike most resins, is soluble in boil- 
ing water. It is probably oxidized aloin. 

There is also an acid present (aloetic acid), which strikes an olive-brown 
with persalts of iron. 

Aloes is an irritant poison, and acts as a drastic purgative. Death will 
be due mainly to exhaustion by excessive purging. 

Case of Poisoning by Aloes. 
CASE 1. — Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 325. (Occurred in Germany.) Female: 
set. 43. 5ij of powdered aloes. 
Symptoms. Violent purging and death. 
Result. — Death in twelve hours. 
Post-mortem. — Stomach and the small intestines extensively inflamed. 

Squilla Mar it i ma. 

The squill is a narcotico-acrid poison. It contains, according to Lau- 
derer, an active alkaloidal principle, called Scillitin, one grain of which is 
said to have killed a dog. Orfila found that 2£ ounces of the fresh root, 
secured in the stomach of a dog, killed it in two hours, death occurring in 
a fit of tetanus. Coma, dilated pupils, and general convulsions were also 
noticed. Thirty-six grains injected into the jugular vein killed a dog in 
sixteen hours. Christison records bad effects being produced with one- 
quarter of an ounce of the syrup of squills. 

Both the powdered root and the extract have caused death. 

Cases of Poisoning by Squill. 

CASE 1. — "Toxicologic Gen.," vol. ii, p. 202 (Lange). Female: adult. A spoonful of powdered 
root taken to cure tympanitis. 
Symptoms. — Immediate pain ; convulsions. 
Result— Death. 
Post-mortem. — Stomach inflamed, and in some parts eroded. 

CASE 2.— "Journal de Chimie Medicale," 1S42, p. 651 ; and " Medical Times," Oct. 29, 1842, p. 78. 
Female : 75 grains of the extract as an alcoholic tincture. 

Symptoms. — Nausea and colic; after twenty-four hours pupils contracted; extreme abdominal ten- 
derness: coldness of extremities; death. 

Result. — Death on second day. 


Lobelia Inflata, and other Varieties. 
(Lobelia — Indian Tobacco — Bladder-podded Lobelia.) 

The stem of the Indian tobacco is angular; the leaves are hairy on their 
under surface ; the seeds are light brown and hairy (3176 to 1 grain : 
Guy), of an oval shape and reticulated on the surface. 


It is imported from North America, in the form of compressed obloug 
cakes, which are sent over by the shaking Quakers of New Lebanon, and 
are principally used by the quack botanical doctors, who revel iu the omi- 
nous name of " Coffinites." Coffinism is no innocent, harmless system. Its 
absurd theory is, that " Heat is life, and the want of heat disease;" and 
so Cayenne pepper and lobelia are the two principal medicines of its pro- 
fessors ("Lancet," June 22, 1850, p. 766, and July 6, 1850, p. 31), which 
they administer with no cautious or measured hand. Over and over again 
tluy assert, what has over and over again been disproved, that lobelia can- 
not kill. 

Lobelia is generally found in the form of a greenish-colored powder, con- 
sisting chiefly of the powdered seed. It has a disagreeable smell, and a 
nauseous acrid taste, which is not developed until a short time after it has 
been put into the mouth. The taste is due to the presence of an alkaloid 
(lobelin), a volatile oil, and a peculiar acid (lobelic acid). 

Lobelia or Lobelina. 

This was first isolated by Bastick. It is a yellowish liquid, lighter than 
water, and has an acid taste, and an aromatic odor. 

It is slightly soluble in water, and freely soluble in alcohol and ether. 
It has an alkaline reaction, and forms salts with acids. 

Symptoms — Doge. 

In small doses lobelia acts as an expectorant, but in larger doses as an 

In poisonous doses the symptoms closely resemble those of tobacco. 
There is severe vomiting, with intense depression and prostration, head- 
ache, giddiness, tremor, and often insensibility. The patient becomes 
bathed in cold sweats. The pupil is ordinarily contracted. Diarrhoea 
and dysuria are not uncommon. The pulse is generally intermittent, and 
convulsions usher iu death. 

But, on the contrary, the patient often gets well, and the reason is quite 
obvious. So long as vomiting is produced, all will be right; but when 
this becomes impossible, either by reason of the prostration of the system 
by disease or old age, or, the reverse of this, its administration to infants 
and very young children, then it is that vomiting is not induced, and 
there is nothing left for the wretched patient but death. And the conclu- 
sion is forced upon us, that lobelia, in the hands of men as careless as 
they are ignorant is a most dangerous drug. 

As regards dose, ten to fifteen grains of the powdered leaves or seeds 
will act as a strong emetic. A drachm has destroyed life, although, as we 
have said, recovery may occur from very large doses if free vomiting be 
produced. One-half to one grain of lobelin is a dangerous dose; but it 
appears that the alkaloid does not act so much as an irritant as a narcotic. 
Death sometimes takes place very slowly. 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

The stomach and bowels are generally inflamed, and the vessels of the 
brain congested. 


Vomiting must be immediately produced, and stimulants given, in order 
to prevent the depressaut action of the drug. 

Iu a toxicological examination search should be made specially for por- 



tions of the seeds, which must be examined microscopical!} 7 . The leaves 
are not very characteristic. Nitric acid turns the powder of lobelia red, 
and sulphuric acid chars it. 

Cases of Poisoning by Lobelia. 

CASE 1. — "Pharmaceutical Times," May 1, 1874, p. 182. Male. 5j of powdered leaves given by 
a quack. 

Symptoms. — Great pain; insensibility; small pulse; contracted pupils; vomiting; spasmodic 
twitch ings of the face; death iu thirty-six hours. 

Result. — Death iu thirty-six hours. 

Post-mortem. — Nothing found in the stomach ; mucous membrane of stomach very inflamed; ves- 
sels of brain congested. 

CASE 2.— "Medical Times and Gazette," November 2G, 1853, p. 568 (Dr. Letheby). {l)Male: £et. 
27. Lobelia seeds given by a Coffinite. 
Remit.— Death. 
Post-mortem. — Stomach highly injected. 

CASE 3.—" Medical Times and Gazette," November 26, 1853, p. 568 (Dr. Letheby). (2) Lobelia 
given by a Cofliuite. 
Result.— Death. 

Post-rn ode in. — Stomach inflamed. 

CASE 4.— Bigelow's "American Botany," vol. i, p. 181 (case of Ezra Lovett). Lobelia powders 
given by a quack. 

Symptoms. — In the first instance the powders were given, and induced vomiting; but afterwards 
vomiting did not set in, and serious symptoms consequently ensued : delirium and convulsions. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 5.— "Lancet," 1869 (Dr. Tidy and Mr. Rees Llewellyn). i£t. 1. Lobelia given by a quack. 

Symptoms. — Violent sickness ; cold sweats : convulsions. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach very inflamed ; no lobelia found. 

CASE 6.— "Lancet," September 8, 1849, p. 275 (Reg. v. John Wood). Male. Given internally 
and used as an injection (= 120 grains internally and 120 grains by injection). 

Result. — Died in about thirty-six hours. 

Post-mortem. — Stomach greatly inflamed, especially at the cardiac orifice; great and small intes- 
tines more or less inflamed ; an ulcer found in the jejunum ; congestion of the brain. 

See the following Cases also recorded of Poisoning by Lobelia: 

"Medical Times and Gazette," March 12, 1853, p. 271 (Dr. Letheby). 

" Medical Times," June 30, 1S49, p. 684 (death from lobelia powder given by a Coffinite). 


Gelsemium Sempervirens. 

(Yellow Jasmine.) 

The alcoholic extract of the root has proved poisonous. It contains an 
alkaloid, gelseminiu (Wormley), and an organic acid, gelseminic acid. 

Geheminin is an active poison. One-eighth of a grain killed one rab- 
bit when administered hypodermically iu one hour and a half, a secoud 
in fifteen minutes, and a third in forty minutes. No convulsions were 
produced. The pupils were dilated. 

Gelseminic Acid is fluorescent when dissolved in potash. By the action 
of nitric acid it changes to a light-red color, which becomes blood-red 
when acted upon with ammonia. 

Dr. Wormley states that it may be detected in the stomach months after 

Cases of Poisoning with the Yellow Jasmine. 

" Americau Journal of Pharmacy," January, 1S70. Female adult; pregnant. Three teaspoonfuls 
of fluid extract = 480 grs. to ounce. 

.Symptoms. — In two hours pain in stomach ; nausea; dimness of vision ; became very restless ; skin 
perspiring; in four hours pulse feeble and irregular; prostration; slow and irregular breathing; 
skin became dry ; limbs cold; pupils dilated and insensible, and eyes fixed; no convulsions; death. 

Result. — Death in seven hours and a half. 


Pnst-mortem. — Brain and spinal cord normal: lunirs natural: h.-art normal, the superficial veins 
being injected, ami tin' ciTlties distended with dark grunious blood ; left kidney congested; stomach , 
intestines! and peritoneum healthy. 

Siryehnos Nux Vomica. 

The bark of the strychnos nux vomica, which is very poisonous, has 
been more than once substituted for augustura bark (Galipea Cusparia), 
and called false angustura hark. The extreme bitterness of the mix 
vomica bark, its twisted appearance, the impossibility of separating it into 
thin layers, and the blood-red color produced wheu nitric acid is applied 
to the internal coat, render it easy to distinguish the one from the other. 
And further, in true angustura bark the external surface is covered with a 
yellowish-gray uneven epidermis, the internal coat being of a light-brown 
color, whilst the epidermis of the false augustura or nux vomica bark is 
white, and spotted with red dots. 

Nux Vomica Seeds. 

The fruit of the nux vomica is very similar to an orange. The seeds 
are of a light-brown color, round, flattened, and about the size of a 
shilling, one side being convex and the other concave. They have a 
velvety feel from their being covered with fine hairs. They have no smell, 
but their taste is intensely bitter. They are very hard, and difficult to 

Two preparations of them are to be found in the " Pharmacopoeia :" 

1. Extractum Nucis Vomica : 1 lb. of seed yields 1| oz. of extract. 

2. Tinclura Nucis Vomicae: §ij of powdered seeds to 1 pint of spirit. 

The seeds have been called by the Germans " Crows' Eyes," from their 
supposed similarity. Some time back one of the authors was consulted 
respecting the composition and properties of a seed which had in every 
respect a striking resemblance to nux vomica.' It was the seed of a foreign 
cucurbitaceous plant, and was found not to be poisonous. 

The powdered seeds are often met with in the shops, and have more 
than once been taken and administered criminally. The symptoms, 
treatment, and post-mortem appearance do not differ materially from 
strychnia. In conducting an investigation in a case of poisoning by the 
powdered seeds, the sedimeut of the contents of the stomach, and particu- 
larly the scrapings from the lining membrane of the stomach, must be 
carefully examined for portions of the seed. These may be easily identified, 
even wheu the pieces are very minute, by the fine silken hairs projecting 
from their surface. An aqueous solution of nux vomica turns red when 
treated with nitric acid, the color being discharged by chloride of tin. It 
also turns green when treated with perchloride of iron. It is precipitated 
by tincture of galls. Search must be especially made for strychnia in the 
manner to be afterwards described. 

Under ordinary circumstances one of the seeds, or about thirty grains, 
is sufficient to cause death. In the treatment the stomach-pump should 
be actively employed, in order to displace the particles adhering to the 
sides of the stomach. 

Woorara Poison. 

It will be convenient here to refer to what is known as the Woorara 
poison, which is believed by most toxicologists to owe its poisonous action 
to the presence of strychnia, although there is some doubt whether this be 
the case or not. 


The Woorara poison is known by several names — such as Ourari 
(Humboldt): Woorara (Bancroft, in 1769 1 ; Wborali 'a corruption of 
Woorara i : Ticunas I the name of a tribe who prepare the poison) ; Urari 

The Woorara poison has been a subject of lively discussion. Many 
have believed that its active ingredient is the poison of serpents. Drs. 
Taylor and Schomburgk state positively that it contains strychnia, the 
latter asserting that he has succeeded in tracing its source to the strychnos 
toxifera. On the other hand, Dr. Cogswell states (" Lancet," March 3, 
1855, p. 243), that in his experiments the symptoms produced by it were 
very different from those of strychnia poisoning; whilst M. Vella asserts not 
onlv that the Woorara does not contain strychnia at all, hut that it is an 
antidote for strychnia. (" Medical Times and Gazette," Oct. 13, 1860, 
p. 357.) Dr. Cogswell's experiments are interesting. He found it to be 
very fatal when swallowed, although Brodie and others held and assserted 
a contrary opinion. Introduced beneath the skin of a frog's leg, he found 
that it caused paralysis of the limb. Its primary action, Dr. Cogswell 
states, he believes to be narcotic ; but that it acts secondarily as a sedative, 
paralyzing the functions of the nervous system, and this both locally where 
it is immediately applied to the body, and constitutionally after it has 
entered the circulation. 

The poisonous action of the Upas Tieute is believed to be due to 

" The Woorara poison is brought to Europe in calabashes as a brown 
powder, which dissolves in water, producing a red-colored solution, having 
an acid reaction and bitter taste, and giving no precipitate with alkalies. 
Others describe it as a black, shining, resinous mass, which dissolves in 
water and alcohol, and evolves a nitrogenous odor when heated. It 
contains an active principle, as well as tatty, resinous, and red-coloring 
matters, and some ash. When a small quantity of this substance is intro- 
duced into the system through a scratch in the skin, death rapidly follows. 
South American travellers have given conflicting accounts both of the 
preparation and action of the poison ; but they all agree in the statement 
that the flesh of an animal killed by a curarized arrow is quite wholesome, 
as the poison has no effect when swallowed. 

" The active principle was first isolated in an impure uucrystallizable 
state by Boussingault and Roulin in 1830; it was afterwards examined by 
other chemists ; but it was first obtained as crystals by Preyer in 1865. 
By extracting curara with alcohol, distilling away the alcohol, dissolving 
the residue in water, adding corrosive sublimate, and decomposing the 
compound formed, hydrochloride of curarin was obtained. Gwarin itself 
crystallizes in colorless four-sided prisms, which have a bitter taste, are 
verv hygroscopic, and dissolve readily in alcohol and water, the solution 
being alkaline, but not in ether or benzol, and but sparingly in chloro- 
form. The formula assigned to the base is C 1(I H ]3 X. It forms salts with 
the mineral acids, which crystallize, but are very soluble in water. Many 
experiments have been made to determine the action of this poison ; and 
it now seems certain that it paralyzes the nerves of motion, and that an 
animal under its influence dies of suffocation from paralysis of the muscles 
of the chest. The minutest quantities of the pure base produce toxic or 
even fatal symptoms, 0.015 of a grain being fatal to a rabbit, and 0.004 to a 
frog, when injected under the skin. Curarin which has been taken into 
the stomach seems to be eliminated almost unchanged. If after adminis- 
tration of curarin, life be maintained by artificial respiration, symptoms 
of diabeteg mellifus are perceived, and the urine contaius sugar." 

The above account is taken almost verbatim from the "Popular Ency- 


clopsedia," p. 676, vol. ii. But the authors are able of their own knowl- 
edge to confirm all these remarks on the effects of the poison. 

- \,;.. (C ii xc . 

Strychnia was discovered in 1818 by Pelletier and Caventou, in the 
seeds of the strychnos uux vomica, and strychnos Ignatia (St. Ignatius'e 
bean . The quantity present varies from 0.5 to 1 per cent. It is now 
known to exist in at least five species of the genu- strychnos, and in each 
ease is found associated with another alkaloid, brucia (C a Hj,.N,0 4 ). In 
strychnos nux vomica a third alkaloid has been discovered, called Igasuria, 
with probably other bases (Sehutzenberger\ all of which are combined 
with strychnic, igasuric, and lactic acids. Several species of the strychnos 
eoutain no trace of the alkaloid strychnia. 

1. Strychnos Xu.r Vomica, a tree, i India and Ceylon.) 
L'. Strychnos Ignatia, a tree. (Philippine Islands.) 
Strychnos Tteuti a shrub. (Java.) 

4. Stry ■'• i-i-- Toxifer i, said to be one compound of the Woorara poison. 


5. .Strychnos Oolubrina, a tree. (Asia.) 

Physical Properties. 

Strychnia is found either in the form of a white powder, or else in crvs- 
talliue particles of different magnitudes and of variable appearance. 
Sometimes the crystals are in little pearly scales like mica ; at other times 
they are octahedra with a rhombic base, although they are somewhat more 
commonly found as large four-sided prisms. The crystalline forms van- 
ling to whether they are obtained from an ethereal or alcoholic 

Strychnia has been more than once mistaken for santonin, to which it 
has Mime similarity. I " British Medical Journal," Oct. 12, 1861, p. 400 ; 
"Lancet," 1870, p. 598, vol. i.) It has no smell ; but its taste is so in- 
tensely bitter that it may be detected in an aqueous solution containing a 
grain of the alkaloid in the gallon, or in a single drop of water which 
contains not more than one part in 5000. The salts of strychnia are not 
so bitter as the alkaloid. 

Of all the common salts of strychnia, the acetate is by far the most 
soluble in water and alcohol, although not so soluble in ether. When 
a drop of solution of any salt of strychnia is allowed to evaporate sponta- 
neously on a slip of glass, the crystalline forms can be easily identified 
under the microscope. They are invariably found either in the form of 
plumose tufts of acicnlar crystals, radiating from a centre, or as long, flat 
needles, or as thin rectangular plates. 

The solubility of strychnia in different liquids and the forms of the 
crystals produced from the various solutions, on allowing the solvents to 
evaporate spontaneously, are recorded in the following table : 



Solubility of Strychnia in different Liquids, and forms of Crystals 


1 gr. 
1 gr. 
1 gr. 

1 gr. 
1 gr. 

of Strychnia dissolves in 7000 of Cold Water 
16° Cent.), 



1 gr. of 

2500 of Boiling Water 
(100° Cent.)T . . . 

1000 of Bisulphide of 

340 of Ether, . . .' 
250 of Benzol, . 

100 of Alcohol, 

1 gr. of 

1 gr. of 

30 of Dutch Liquid, 

10 of Chloroform, 

Chemical Properties. 

Crystals small and very 
indistinct, appearing to 
the naked eye when seen 
in quantity to be nodular. 
Residue white and granu- 
lar ; forms indistinct. 

( Crystals appear as flat 

\ prisms, sometimes small 

( and serrated. 

f Crystals very large, sotne- 

\ times octahedral. 

f Crystals brilliant and 
sparkling; modified rec- 
tangular, and rhombic 
prisms, the opposite acute 
angles being often re- 
placed by planes. Size 
of crystals dependent on 
quantity, but always well 

f Residue reddish, and not 
very crystalline, when 
only a small quantity of 
strychnia is present; but 
when there is a consider- 
able amount the crystals 
are large, long, rectangu- 
lar prisms. 

f Crystals not well formed ; 

-| but sometimes occur in 

[ rosettes and tufts. 

Strychnia cannot be volatilized in an unchanged condition. It has dis- 
tinct basic properties, and readily forms crystal ii /.able salts, which are for 
the most part soluble both in water and alcohol. It is not decomposed 
either by the cold concentrated mineral acids, or by the caustic alkalies. 
The mineral acids dissolve it, but no change of color results from their 
action. The power that strychnia possesses of resisting the decomposing 
action of strong acids is remarkable. Sulphuric acid may be kept in 
contact with it for months without apparently affecting it. It remains un- 
altered, too, both in the presence of the most active fermentation, and in 
the prolonged putrefaction of organic bodies. 

Impurities of Strychnia. 

Brucia is often used as an adulterant. It may be known by adding 
nitric acid, which produces no discoloration with strychnia when pure, 
but if brucia be present, an intense red color will be immediately devel- 

Strychnia is largely used in the various forms of " vermin-killers," 
mixed with different coloring matters. It may generally be easily ex- 
tracted from these with alcohol, and the coloring-matter be got rid of by 
strong sulphuric acid. " Battle's Vermin-Killer" contains 23 per cent, of 
strychnia, mixed with sugar, flour, and Prussian blue; "Butler's Vermin- 
Killer " contains about 5 per cent, of strychnia, mixed with flour and soot ; 
" Gibson's Vermin-Killer " contains about 0.5 grain of strychnia in each 


3 minutes. 


























powder. A curious case is recorded, where about 150 pheasants were 
poisoned From eating the maggots generated in some animals destroyed by 
a strychnia vermin-killer. ("Lancet," Aug. 23, 1856, p. 231.) 

Symptoms, Dose, etc. 

From the records of twenty-seven cases, where the time of the com- 
mencement of the symptoms is recorded, we learn that — 

In 2 cases the symptoms set in directly. 

In 2 " 

In 2 " " 

In 4 " " 

In 5 " '< 

In 5 " " 

In 2 " " 

In 1 case " 

In 1 " " 

In 1 " " 

In 1 " " 

In 1 " " in 3 " 

Thus it would seem that the most usual time for the symptoms to com- 
mence is in from ten to twenty minutes, but that they may begin im- 
mediately, or be delayed for an hour or more. Such variations depend 
both on the form in which the poison is taken and on the manner of its 
administration. The action is rapid, if the strychnia be given in solu- 
tion, and slow when it is administered in the form of a pill, more par- 
ticularly if that pill be old and hard. The patient will probably complain 
first of all of the hot bitter taste of what he has swallowed. He will cry 
out for the window to be thrown open, from a feeling of impending suffo- 
cation. The strychnia fit soon conies on, when the muscles will be seen to 
jerk, and an intense stiffness of the body, with severe tetanic convulsions, 
will rapidly supervene. The legs will be jerked out violently and fre- 
quently, the feet being generally everted and arched, and the toes drawn 
under the feet. Opisthotonos (that is, where the head and the heels con- 
stitute the only supports of the arched body), is a frequent form of the 
tetanic spasm of strychnia. The pain is intense, and the distress arising 
from the muscular contractions of the whole body, and more particularly 
of the abdomen, seems absolutely intolerable. Vomiting is not common. 
The chest appears fixed, and there is a constant gasping respiration. The 
face usually appears to be in a broad grin. The eyes are often prominent, 
the pulse rapid, and foam issues from the mouth. This is the fit, and it 
generally lasts for a minute or two. During the fit the pupils are dilated. 
After a few minutes a remission of all the symptoms occurs, when the 
pupils contract, and the patient, bathed in sweat, seems worn out by the 
agony he has endured. The remission may last from a few minutes to half 
an hour, when another fit similar to that already described will set in. 
The prominent symptom, however, of strychnia poisoning is tetanus or 
lockjaw ; and this is not merely an accidental symptom, as when it happens 
in other cases of poisoning, but is invariably present. It must too be noted 
particularly that in strychnia poisoning the jaw is the last part to be af- 
fected. In the remission even the tetanus may subside ; but, although the 
patient appears to be dying of thirst, to drink a drop of liquid seems im- 
possible ; for in the attempt, or by a touch of the finger of a bystander, 
or by any effort of the patient, or by neither the one nor the other, and 
often apparently without cause, the fit returns. The time it lasts gradu- 
ally increases, whilst the remissions become fewer and shorter ; until at 
length the patient dies, either from asphyxia during a paroxysm, or from 


intense exhaustion during a remission, and probably within two hours of 
his having taken the poison. As a rule the patient's mind is clear to the 
end, conscious of his danger, and terrified at the return of the fits. (For 
modes of death in strychnia poisoning, see "Lancet," July 19, 1856, p. 
72.) As regards prognosis, the records of cases prove that death or re- 
covery is always rapid, and that if a person lives over five or six hours, 
the case is hopeful. 

The records of 32 fatal cases show that 1 died directly, 2 in 10 minutes, 
1 in 15 minutes, 3 in 20 minutes, 6 in 30 minutes, 1 in 45 minutes, 5 in 1 
hour, 6 in from 1} to 12 hours, 3 in from 2 to 2£ hours, 2 in 3i hours, 1 
in 5 hours, and 4 in 6 hours. 

The T ' 2 th to the -j th of a grain is commonly regarded as the medici- 
nal dose of strychnia. We usually consider that 1^ to 2 grains and up- 
wards is a poisonous dose. Andral reports a case of severe tetanus being 
produced by the y'.jth of a grain ; whilst a fatal case is recorded as having 
occurred from a quarter. Gallard considers that even ^-th of a grain 
should be regarded as a poisonous dose. (" Medical Times and Gazette," 
Oct. 18, 1862, p. 416.) 

But numerous cases are on record of recovery after taking large doses, 
such as even 40 grains ("Medical Times and Gazette," Sept. 2, 1865, p. 
267 ) ; whilst several cases of recovery from 1, 3, 4, 7, 10, 15, and 20 grains, 
will also be found in the list of cases. 

Strychnia is far more intense in its action when administered hypoder- 
mically, than when given by the mouth. 

A very important question has been raised, namely, whether an infant 
can be poisoned by strychnia through the medium of its mother's milk ? 
Dr. Letheby at an inquest on a case of poisoning ("Lancet," May 15, 
1869, p. 683), replied to this question, that he thought it was possible. 
In the " Lancet " of May 22, 1869, p. 732, Dr. George Harley records a 
case, showing (1 ) that a child may have distinct tetanic symptoms by suck- 
ing the milk of a mother who was taking strychnia in medicinal doses; 
and (2) that the toxic effects on the child maybe present without any 
corresponding effects on the mother. " If, then," Dr. Harley says, " a 
child can receive sufficient, strychnine in its mother's milk to bring on 
tetanic spasms, in a case where the mother is taking medicinal doses so 
small that she herself remains physiologically unaffected by the drug, 
are we not justified in concluding that in a case where a mother has 
taken sufficient to be poisoned, her offspring at the breast may die from 
the effects of the alkaloid, although she herself may recover?" A second 
similar case is also recorded ("Lancet," June 19, 1869, p. 872) by Mr. 

Dr. N. Gorochofzeff, of Orenburg, concludes from his experiments on 
dogs that the poisonous effects of strychnia are stronger and more rapid 
when introduced into the cavity of the mouth than they are in the stomach. 
Half a grain of sulphate of strychnia introduced into the mouth of a dog, 
after the ligature of the oesophagus, proved fatal in four minutes, whilst 
a similar dose when allowed to reach the stomach proved fatal in fifty 
minutes. Death, he considers, is not caused by absorption of the poison 
when introduced into the mouth, as no traces of strychnia could be found 
in the blood. (" Rev. des Sciences Med.," May, 1875, p. 57.) 

Post-mortem Appearances. 

There is little to be said respecting post-mortem appearances. What 
has been noticed, if we except the state of the brain anil spinal cord, is 
neither uniform nor characteristic. Post-mortem rigidity is usually pro- 


longed. The countenance after death is, as a rule, natural, but indicative 
of more or less suffering. The state of the heart varies. In most of the 
cases that have come under our own observation, we have found the heart 
full of blood on both sides, but particularly on the right side; whilst we 
have, on the other hand, found it more than once empty and contracted. 
Too much reliance, we are convinced, must not be placed on the state of 
the heart as a characteristic post-mortem appearance. Dr. Geoghegan 
states that in six out of ten inspections of fatal cases made by him, he 
found the heart either contracted or wanting in normal fulness. As a rule, 
nothing specially characteristic will be noticed in the appearauce of the 
stomach, but occasionally it will be found intensely congested. If, how- 
ever, there is one specially characteristic morbid appearance of death by 
strychnia it is. as we have said, the intense congestion both of the brain 
and spinal cord, with considerable effusion of blood. But even these ap- 
pearances are not constant. Very often, too, considerable congestion of 
the air-passages will be observed. 


To get the poison out of the system is the first great indication, and for 
this purpose we must use the stomach-pump. The injection of powdered 
animal charcoal for the purpose of absorbing the poison is strongly recom- 
mended, and with considerable reason. The charcoal should be allowed 
to remain in the stomach for about five minutes, and then be pumped out, 
and a fresh quantity injected. Some difficulty will probably be experienced 
in the introduction of the pump, from the fixed state of the jaw. Imme- 
diately therefore you are called to a case of strychnia poisoning, administer 
chloroform, and when the patient is thoroughly under its influence, you 
will probably be able to introduce the tube of the pump without difficulty. 
And what is more, the chloroform offers the greatest chance of relief, and 
appears to be the best practicable means of keeping in check the violence 
of the fits (Dr. Sabarth, " Dublin Medical Journal," 1867, vol. xliii, p. 
167). At the same time it is right to note that Professor Pilwax asserts 
that, in his experiments upon animals to which strychnia had been ad- 
ministered, chloroform proved useless as an antidote ("Medical Times and 
Gazette," Jan. 9, 1858, p. 44). 

The thirst, if the patient can take drink, is best relieved by strong tea. 

Numerous remedies have been suggested. 

Opium and morphia are much commended by some, and cases on record 
show that they have proved useful. Mr. Mavor's experiments ("Lancet," 
Dec. 9, 1871, p. 840) are interesting in illustration of the antagonism be- 
tween strychnia and opium. Camphor is also much recommended, and 
has certainly proved of value ("Lancet," July 24, 1852, p. 80). Xicolin 
is believed by Professor Haughton to be of immense service (" Dublin 
Quarterly Journal of Medical Science," August, 1862). 

Dr. Auanoff, of Tiflis, in studying the therapeutic value of oxygen, 
found that in animals poisoned by strychnia the inhalation of pure oxygen, 
by aid of artificial respiration, successfully counteracted the effects of the 
poison (" Echo de la Presse Medicale," Paris, Aug., 1874, p. 64). 

Tannin has been specially applauded by M. Kurzak, provided it bead- 
ministered in a quantity not less than twenty to twenty-five times that of 
the poison swallowed (" British Medical Journal," December 13, 1862, 
p. 620). 

Prussia acid is recommended by some, but we scarcely regard the experi- 
ments recorded as of much value in asserting its antidotal power ("Lan- 
cet," vol. i, 1868, pp. 275-335). 


Common salt has also been suggested ("British Medical Journal," Jury 
27, 1867, p. 63). 

Lastly, we have to refer to Chloral Hydrate. There can be but little 
doubt that this is a most useful drug in strychnia poisoning, and seems, so 
far as it has been tried, to have acted more satisfactorily than anything 
else. It should either be given in full doses and repeated as often as nec- 
essary, or if its administration by the mouth be impossible, it should be 
hypodermically injected. 

But is strychnia the antidote to chloral ? This was asserted by Lieb- 
reich, but is contradicted by Ore, the Professor of Physiology at the 
Bordeaux School of Medicine (" Lancet," Sept. 21, 1872, p. 427). 

The following table represents the various treatments adopted in twenty- 
four cases of recovery, after taking strychnia : 

In 7, Chloroform and emetics. 

In 1, Chloroform and electricity. 

In 1, Chloroform and tincture of aconite. 

In 7, The stomach-pump and emetics onlv. 

In 1, Emetics, Indian hemp, and chloric ether. 

In 3, Opium. 

In 2, Nicotin. 

In 1, Albumen. 

In 1, Chloral hydrate. 

Tests for Strychnia. 

1. When pure it is white and intensely bitter. 

2. It melts and burns with a smokv flame when heated on platinum- 

3. Sulphuric acid has no action upon it, except that of dissolving it. 

4. It is not colored like morphia by sulphomolybdic and by iodic 

5. What is known as the " color test," is by far the most important 
test for strychnia, and this we must examine in some detail. 

When strychnia is brought under the influence of nascent oxygen, that is, 
oxygen at the very moment it is set free, the strychnia instantly acquires 
a deep rich blue color, which speedily passes into a purple, then into a 
violet, then into a crimson, and then into an orange and yejlow. The feet 
that brilliant colors appeared when strychnia was first mixed with oxide 
of lead, and touched with a drop of sulphuric acid, was noticed by Mar- 
chaud in 1845. Other reagents have since that time been recommended in 
the place of the plumbic oxide, e. g., Otto, in 1846, suggested bichromate 
of potash ; Mack, in thesameyear, peroxide of manganese ; Bueger, in 1850, 
chromic acid ; whilst ferricyauide of potassium, the alkaline iodates, and 
permanganate of potash have been recommended by others. Dr. Letheby 
was the first to suggest the use of the galvanic battery in performing the 
color test. This constitutes an experiment of great value and interest 
from the fact that it clearly demonstrates the true theory of the production 
of the color by avoiding the addition of all chemical reagents. As re- 
gards the numerous substances suggested by various authorities, it must be 
remembered that the simple fact is, that anything that will give out oxy- 
gen will develop the tints. 

There is a right and a wrong way of performing the experiment. Pro- 
ceed as follows: Place the strychnia on a clean white plate, and touch it 
with a drop of concentrated sulphuric acid. Mix the acid with the strych- 
nia thoroughly by the aid of a glass rod. Allow this to stand for a few 


minutes, and note that if the strychnia be pure, the acid will not discolor 
it. Place bv the side of the mixture of the acid with the strychnia a 
small quantity of cither finely powdered peroxide of manganese or lead, 
and with a glass rod cautiously stir a little of the powder into the mixture, 
taking care to use only a very small quantity of the oxide. The following 
buco ssion of colors will be noticed : first, blue, passing into purple, then 
violet, then red, the mixture finally becoming colorless, or nearly so. 
With ordinary manipulative >kill it is impossible to mistake strychnia tor 
any cither substance. It has been stated that siliciu. sugar, bile, pyro- 
xanthin, piperin, resinous matters, and many other things act as possible 
fallacies, hut with all these bodies it will be noticed that a change of color 
is produced directly they are mixed with the acid, whilst in the case 
of strychnia no such alteration of color will be observed. 

We strongly recommend either peroxide of manganese, or peroxide of 
lead, as oxidizing agents. The use of permanganate of potash is most un- 
advisable, inasmuch as the colore produced by the action merely of sul- 
phuric acid on the salt itself, are perilously similar to those produced when 
strychnia is present. 

Potassic bichromate, which is used by many, is assuredly of all bodies 
the worst tin- the purpose. 

(«) It is itself colored by the acid, and thus complicates results. 

(,; It will not act when organic and other matters are present, such as, 
e. g., the vegetable acids, tartar emetic, potassio-tartrate of soda, sugar, gum, 
a trace of morphia, nitre, or common salt. 

(y) It is the least delicate of all the reagents, even under the most favora- 
ble circumstances; for whilst the oxide of manganese or the oxide of lead 
will show the presence of jfsjojth of a grain of strychnia, the bichromate 
will not act well with less than the ^ ,,',, ,,th of a grain. 

There need be no difficulty in the use of either the peroxides of lead or 
manganese because of their dark color. A very small quantity is all that 
is needed, and the colors produced by them are far more permanent and 
intense than those developed with the bichromate. 

It may possibly be urged that if auiliu be present it acts as an important 
fallacy to these color tests. It is true that the salts of auiliu are not col- 
ored when sulphuric acid is added to them and also that a play of color 
does result as soon as nascent oxygen is set free by the addition to the 
acid mixture of either oxide of lead or manganese, as in the case of strych- 
nia. But no confusion or difficulty can arise if the play of colors be well 
noted. The following is the tint order with strychnia : a very evanescent 
blue, then purple, then violet, then red, becoming at last colorless. With 
anilin, it is first green, then a very persistent blue, then black. 

Dr. Letheby's suggestion that the galvanic battery should be used' as a 
means for developing nascent oxygen removes not only every possible 
source of fallacy, giving us the power of evolving or stopping the oxygen 
at pleasure, but also admits of a perfect recognition of tints without the 
interference of any extraneous colors. Proceed as follows : Place a drop of 
a solution of strychnia (say one part in 15,000 or 20,000 of water) in a 
slight cup-shaped depression on a piece of platinum-foil. Allow the fluid 
to evaporate, and when dry moisten the spot with a little concentrated sul- 
phuric acid. Connect the foil with the positive pole of a single cell of 
Grove's battery, and touch the acid with a platinum terminal from the 
negative pole. In an instant the violet color will flash out, and on re- 
moving the pole from the acid, the tint will remain. 

6. Marshall Haiti Test. 

There is no test for strychnia so remarkably delicate and so absolutely 
certain as its physiological action on a small animal, the frog, being, ac- 


cording to Marshall Hall, the best for the purpose. The solution to be ex- 
amined should be injected under the skin of the back, the liquid being far 
less liable to run out of a wound in this part of the body than if it be in- 
jected, as is commonly recommended, into the abdominal cavity. Just 
raise the skin of the back with the forceps, and with a fine pair of scissors 
make an opening large enough to admit the end of a small pipette. A 
minute quantity of strychnia injected in this manner will show results that 
are unmistakable, eveu where we fail to get satisfactory evidence by the 
color tests. Dr. Harley asserts that on injecting yj,',n?>th of a grain into 
the lungs of a small frog, tetanic convulsions occurred in nine and a half 
minutes, and death iu two hours. 

The following may be regarded as the ordinary course of the symptoms 
in the frog after its hypodermic injection. For a short time the animal 
remains perfectly quiet. The first symptom noticed will be a difficulty of 
breathing, which gradually increases until the animal seems to be gasping 
for its life. A slight tremor, especially in the hind legs, but more or less 
over the entire body, will be observed. Sometimes the frog will at this 
stage remain quiet, whilst at other times it will give several energetic and 
convulsive leaps. The characteristic tetanic convulsions will now make 
their appearance. Occasionally at their commencement, the animal will 
make a strange shriek, as if in pain, at the same time turning over from side 
to side. The spasms are not continuous, but may instantly be produced by 
touching the frog, or by clapping the hands, or by knocking the table with 
the finger. According to Dr. Harley, emprosthotonos, is more common 
in the frog than opisthotonos, the reverse being the case iu man. It will 
be remarked that the pupils dilate during the fits and contract in the in- 

7. Iodine. 

The following is the best plan of making the experiment with iodine : 

Place on a microscope glass a very small drop of an alcoholic solution of 
iodine, and allow it to evaporate, and directly it is dry add a drop of the 
strychnia solution, acidulated with acetic acid, to which has been added a 
trace of sulphuric acid and a drop of spirits of wine. (To see these reac- 
tions, a solution of a trace of strychnia in three drachms of acetic acid, 
one drachm of spirits of wine, and six drops of dilute sulphuric acid gives 
good results.) 

After it has dried spontaneously, it is to be examined under the micro- 
scope with a NicoFs prism aud selenite, using no analyzer, and merely a 
common eyepiece. The following characteristic figures will be seen: 

(a) Small tufts, mostly circular, of acicular black crystals, as fine as 

(/;) Myriads of minute dots of a somewhat triangular form, some being 
larger than others, aud well defined. They are generally colored yellow, 
pink, and green. 

(c) Large triangular crystals generally of a yellow or green color aud 
composed of three parts radiating from a centre. 

(d) A number of solid macled prisms, presenting here aud there com- 
plementary tints of red and green. 

(e) Solid rosette macles of four, five, and six-sided prisms. These, how- 
ever, are not so abundant unless the strychnia is added to the iodine solu- 

(/") Lastly, when the strychnia is in any considerable quantity, large 
feathery and tabular plates of a colorless salt of strychnia not combined with 
iodine will be apparent. 

There are other ways in which the experiment may be made. The 
forms described are sometimes well displayed by dropping a mere fraction 


of a grain of strychnia on an alcoholic solution of iodine to which a trace 
of acetic acid has been added. There is another method by which we have 
obtained very good results; namely, by touching a glass slide first with a 
drop of acetic acid, and afterwards with a solution of iodine, just so as to 
color the acid slightly yellow, when upon adding to this the mere trace of 
dry strychnia, a deep red-brown color instantly appears, which in a few 
minutes changes to orange-yellow. Place over this a covering glass, and 
on examining it with a microscope in the manner described, either one or 
other or all of the several varieties of crystals already noted will be ob- 
served. If the acetic acid is added afterwards, myriads of minute acicular 
and somewhat made crystals are generally developed. It is preferable, 
however, that the acetic acid should be added first, as better results are in 
this way obtained. There is no difficulty by this means of detecting the 
STeW 1 - of a grain. 

8. Iodide of Potassium. 

Produces an amber-colored precipitate. 

Add to the strychnia a drop of acetic acid upon a glass slide, and touch 
it with a drop of an aqueous solution of iodide of potassium. The crystals 
appear under the microscope as macles and prisms grouped iu rosettes. They 
are insoluble either in excess of the iodide or in free alkalies, but are solu- 
ble in most acids. 

9. Carbazotic Acid. 

Gives a pale-yellow precipitate, sparingly soluble even in a large excess 
of acetic acid. The precipitate appears under the microscope in the form 
either of minute needles, arranged in tufts, or as feathery crystals serrated 
at the edges. 

Strychnia is also precipitated by the chlorides of gold and of platinum 
(pale yellow); by perchloride of mercury (white, soluble in acetic acid; 
crystals being plumose tufts) ; by perchloride of iron (yellow; crystals oc- 
tahedral ; by tannic acid (white); by ferrocyanide of potassium (yellow; 
radiating acicular crystals, soluble in most acids) ; by sulphocyanide of po- 
tassium i white and crystalline, in radiating tufts, sparingly soluble in di- 
lute acetic and hydrochloric acids) ; by potash and soda and by their carbo- 
nates, and by ammonia ( white, consisting of the pure alkaloid, soluble in all 
dilute acids); and by bichromate of potash (bright yellow octahedral crys- 
tals, soluble iu nitric acid, insoluble in acetic acid). 

To.ricoloc/ical Analysis. 

In conducting a toxicological examination either of the contents of the 
stomach or of any organic mixture for strychnia, proceed as follows : 

(A) Acidify the organic mixture with a little acetic acid, diluting it with 
sufficient water to make it filter easily. Acetic acid is preferable to other 
acids, because (1) acetate of strychnia is a very soluble salt. (2) The 
acid coagulates casein and other albuminous matters. (3) An excess is 
easily got rid of. (4) It does not change starchy matters into sugar. And 
(5) it cannot complicate the inquiry if other poisons have afterwards to be 
sought for. 

Filter the acid aqueous solution through muslin, and evaporate the fil- 
trate on a water-bath to the consistence of a thick syrup. Treat this resi- 
due with eight or ten times its bulk of alcohol ; filter and distil off the al- 
cohol. The extract, if strychnia be present, will be intensely bitter. If 
necessary, dilute the residue with water, and again filter. Supersaturate 
the filtrate with liquor potassse, and shake the solution up with its own 
bulk of ether. Allow the mixture to stand until the ethereal solution has 
separated. Decant the ether, and treat the watery liquid two or three 


times in a similar manner with ether. Chloroform is no doubt a better sol- 
vent for strychnia than ether, bat it is very much more manage. 
Distil off the ether and dissolve the residue out of the flask with a little 
dilute acetic acid. If the solution be turbid, filter, in order to get rid of 
fatty matters. By a second treatment with potash and ether, the alkaloid 
will probably be obtained iu a state pure enough to be tested. But if not 
or should it contain piperin ( which would interfere with the color test), 
treat the residue with a few drops of concentrated sulphuric acid, and 
stand it in a warm place for a few hours. The acid will not injure the 
strychnia, but it will char the organic matter. Afterwards dilute with 
water, saturate with potash, and treat again with ether, when the alkaloid 
will be obtained in a pure state. To this residue apply the color and other 
tests already described. 

(B) The method adopted by Messrs. Rodgers and Girdwood, is some- 
what similar. 

The contents of the stomach and the stomach itself, cut into small 
pieces, are to be digested in water acidulated with hydrochloric acid over a 
water-bath for two hours, then strained through muslin, filtered and evap- 
orated to dryness over a water-bath. The residue is to be digested in 
alcohol acidulated with hydrochloric acid, filtered and again evaporated 
to dryness. Again treat with distilled water, and filter into a long wide 
tube. To this first add excess of ammonia, and afterwards shake up with 
half an ounce of chloroform. The chloroform having subsided, draw it off 
with a pipette, and evaporate it to dryness in a small evaporating basin; 
afterwards moisten the residue with concentrated sulphuric acid, and allow 
the mixture to remain on a water-bath for half au hour. Add to this 
some distilled water, pouring the solution into a test-tube, and thoroughly 
rinsing out the basin with hot distilled water. When cold, add ammonia 
in excess, and shake the solution up with three drachms of chloroform. It 
may be necessary to repeat the charring with the sulphuric acid. Evapo- 
rate a few drops of the chloroform solution on a white porcelain dish, and 
test with sulphuric acid and peroxide of manganese in the manner already 

If the particles of chloroform do not readily aggregate, the tube must be 
placed for a few minutes in hot water, and if this does not succeed, the 
mixture should then be diluted with a large bulk of water. 

(C) When the liver, spleen, kidneys, or other tissues are the subject of 
analysis, they should first of all be reduced to a pulp by rubbing them well 
up in a mortar, and afterwards digested for several hours with acidulated 
water. The solution should then be boiled, and when cold strained through 
muslin and evaporated over a water-bath, the same process being then 
adopted as with the contents of the stomach. 

(D) To obtain strychnia from urine, set it aside for a few days, until it 
decomposes and becomes alkaline ; filter, shake up with chloroform, and 
purify the alkaloid as already described. 

(E ) If blood is being examined, dilute it with an equal bulk of water, 
acidulate with acetic acid, and boil for a short time. Filter and evapo- 
rate the filtrate nearly to dryness. Treat the residue with alcohol, and 
proceed as before. 

(F) Strychnia may, according to Mr. Rodgers, be detected iu the bones 
of animals poisoned with it. The following is the process recommended by 
him for its detection in these more solid parts of the human body. 

" The bones, broken into pieces of a convenient size, are placed in a deep 
evaporating basin, and covered with dilute hydrochloric acid (one part 
acid and ten parts water), and digested over a water-bath until dissolved. 
When cold the liquid is filtered. To the filtered liquid sulphuric acid 


must be added so long as a precipitate is produced, when the liquid is to be 
again filtered. To the filtrate sulphate of magnesia must be added in the 
proportion of one ounce to every pound of bones used. Excess of ammonia 
18 n>>\v added and the liquid again filtered. This liquid must now be agi- 
tated with about half an ounce of chloroform in a stoppered bottle, which, 
as before stated, dissolves the strychnia. After subsidence, the chloroform 
is to be drawn off by a pipette and agitated in a capacious tube with dis- 
tilled water. The chloroform must again be drawn off, and evaporated to 
dryness over a water-bath ; the residue, after being moistened with con- 
centrated sulphuric acid, is to be again heated over a water bath for half 
an hour, then diluted with distilled water, and filtered into a tube. Excess 
of ammonia is now to be added, and the liquid again agitated with about 
three drachms of chloroform. This last operation requires repetition, as 
the chloroform solution will not at first yield, on evaporation, the strychnia 
in a sufficient state of purity for the application of the color test. It may 
be necessary to remark that in the above process advantage is taken of the 
solubility of strychnia, for as the ammoniacal solution to which the chlo- 
roform is first added will generally equal an imperial pint in quantity, 
nearly one grain and a quarter of strychnine might be in solution, not- 
withstanding the presence of excess of ammonia." 

(G) Dialysis may also be adopted for the separation of the poison from 
the organic mixture. Acidulate with either acetic or hydrochloric acids, 
put the mixture into the dialyzer and float in a dish containing distilled 
water. After allowing it to remain for two days, evaporate the diffusate 
to dryness and test the residue. The results obtained by the authors by 
this method are not satisfactory. 

(H) Or, lastly, the general process suggested at the commencement of 
this chapter may be adopted. 

Failure in detecting Strychnia after Death. 

The question respecting the causes of failure in detecting strychnia after 
poisoning is an important one. There are some who assert that when 
strychnia has been given in a minimum dose to cause death, it is not pos- 
sible for the chemist to detect it, owing to its decomposition in the living 
organism ; whilst others say that there are no cases in which strychnia 
may not be detected in the animal body after the administration of a fatal 
dose, no matter how the poison was given or how long after death the 
analysis was made. 

Both these statements require modification. The first we believe to be 
untrue, and the second a little too strongly stated. Failures in detecting 
the poison, it must be admitted, have too often been due to miserably im- 
perfect methods of research, and the employment of rough processes that 
modern chemistry will not sanction. Strychnia, it is certain, does not de- 
compose in the presence of organic matter. At the time of Palmer's trial 
in 1856, Dr. Letheby put 0.5 grains of strychnia into a bottle with a dog's 
stomach, and sealed it up. In 1869 (thirteen years afterwards), one-half 
of this was examined by one of the authors and all the strychnia reactions 
obtained. The remainder is still preserved. But if the dose has been a 
minimum one, and the period between the taking the poison and death 
considerable, it is just probable that complete elimination of the poison may 
take place, and render its discovery impossible. Such cases are certainly 
very rare, but still it would be wrong to lose sight of their possibility. 

The answer then to the question, Under what circumstances may strych- 
nia fail to be detected after death? is this: If the dose that caused death 
was very small, and a considerable time elapsed between its administra- 


tion and death, complete elimination of the poison from the system is pos- 
sible. Or, in other words, failure to detect the poison is not due to its 
decomposition in the presence of tissue either living or dead (for it is not 
decomposed), but to its elimination. But if death is rapid (as it usually 
is), the length of time that elapses between death and the analysis is per- 
fectly immaterial ; for to use Mr. Rodgers's words, " Putrefaction, so far 
from interfering with the separation of the strychnia, greatly facilitates 
it." If, then, strychnia causes death, only provided that the dose is not 
absolutely a minimum one, and that sufficient time has not elapsed for its 
entire elimination, it is in the body, and the toxicologist should find it, no 
matter whether the examination is made immediately after death, or 
whether years have elapsed between the fatal result and the analysis. 

Cases of Poison in<j with Strychnia. 


CASE 1.— "Medical Times and Gazette," July, 1S56 (Dr. Booth). Male: a?t. 46. !).< graius ; re- 
peated small doses having been taken previously. 

Symptoms, — Stupor; loss of speech ; opisthotonos; pupils dilated. 

Result. — Death in two hours and a half. 

Post-mortem and Analysis.— Membranes of brain and spinal cord congested; apoplectic clot in right 
corpus striatum. 

CASE -J—" Lancet," January 7, 1838, p. 647 (Dr. Blumhardt). Male: xt. 17. 40 grains. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Almost directly. 

Symptoms. — Complete stiffness of head and body in fifteen minutes; perfect consciousness; pupils 
dilated; tetanus. 

Treatment. — Four grains of tartar emetic, which produced very little vomiting. 

Result. — Death in one hour.and a half. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Body very stiff; two pounds of fluid but tarry blood ran out when the 
spinal coid was opened ; no strychnia found; stomach normal. 

CASE 3. — "Lancet," August 31, 1850 Mr. George Bennett). Female: set. 13. \\4 grains in solution. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In one hour. 

Symptoms. — Twitch iugs first appeared; opisthotonos; violent tetanic fits; pupils dilated during 
fits; afterwards contracted. 

Treatment. — Emetics and vinegar and water. 

Result. — Death in two hours and a half. 

CASE 4— WnrnUey," On Poisons," p. 542; "Edinburgh Monthly Journal," December, 1845, p 90S(Dr. 
Watson l. Female : a;t. 12. 54 °*" a grain. 

Tim - is commencing. — In twenty minutes. 

Syndrom.!.-.— Opisthotonos. 

Result.— Death in one hour. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Brain and membranes natural; spinal cord healthy ; cavities of heart 
empty; stomach natural; face placid; lungs much congested. 

CASE 5.— "Medical Gazette," vol. xxxvii, 1346, p. 925. Male: at. 26. Dose (?). 

Time of .Symptoms commencing. — (?) 

$ympf'>ms.— ' 

Result. — Found dead. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Brain and membranes healthy; lungs gorged; heart contained coagu- 
lated blood. 

CASE 6.— "Medical Gazette," vol. xxxvii, p. 254. Female: set. 35. 3 grains taken in tea. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In twenty miuutes. 

Symptoms.— Convulsions, very violent, with periods of intermission. 

Result. — Death in one hour and three-quarters. 

CASE 7. — Casper's " Wochenschrift," February 2S, 1846; "American Journal of Medical Science," 
January, 1^4S. Male: adult. 30 grains taken in spirit. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In fifteen minutes. 

Symptoms.— Muscular twitchings; afterwards opisthotonos. 

Result. — Death in thirty minutes. 

CASE 8.— "Edinburgh Monthly Journal," April, 1846, p. 230 (Dr. Edwards). Male: adult. Dose (?). 

Time of Symptom* commencing. — (?) 

Syniptoms. — (?) Pupils dilated. 

Treatment.— (?) 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Brain and membranes healthy ; lungs congested with dark fluid blood ; 
heart distended with dark fluid bloud j stomach healthy. 


CASE '- 1 -— " British American Journal," August, 1847 (case of Dr. Vfarnen. Male : ret. 39. }A grain 
Of Bolphmte Of strychnia. 

Tinii ■ ■ > j commencing. — In five minutes. 

S ymptom t , — Constriction uf throat was the first symptom; tetanic convulsions ; opisthotonos ; mind 
clear to the last. 

U.— Death in twenty minutes. 

CASE t<>.—-' Medical Times and Gazette," April 15, 1854, p. 376. Female: set. 36. K of a grain (?). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In ten minutes. 

Stjmi>toms. — Convulsions ; emprosthotonos. 

Result. — Death in one hour and three-quarters. 

CASE U. — "' Pharmaceutical Journal." 1848, vol. ii. p. 29S. Female : adult. 3 grains in solution. 

Time of Symptoms commencing — In five to ten minutes. 

Symptom*. — Spasms; perfect consciousness. 

Result. — Death in an hour and a quarter. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Heart contracted and empty ; bloody fluid ; nothing remarkable in other 

CASE 12.— "Medical Times and Gazette," April 28,1855. Female: at. 12. 1 grain taken in pill by 
mistake for valerianate of zinc. 

Time of Symptoms commencing, — Very soon. 
m.— Sickness and tetanic convulsions. 

Result. — Death in an hour and a half. 

CASE 13.— " Edinburgh Monthly Journal," September, 1851, p. 234 (Dr. Smith.). Male: adult. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — (?) 

Symptoms. — (?) 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Every joint rigid ; countenance livid ; brain and membranes very con- 
gested ; blood fluid and dark-colored ; stomach somewhat congested ; spine not examined. 

CASE 14.— "Edinburgh Monthly Journal," 1855 (Dr. Lonsdale). Male: set. 59. 1)4 grains taken 
by mistake for jalapin. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In an hour and a half. 

Symptoms.— Violent spasms; intervals four to eight minutes; tetanus; pupils dilated. 

Result. — Death in one hour. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Brain natural; heart healthy and empty; lungs congested; stomach 

CASE 15.—" Medical Times and Gazette," December 16, 1854, p. 624 (Mr. D. G. McPherson). Male: 
adult. Dose (?). 

Time of Symptoms comviencing. — (?) 

Symptoms.— Found with his body arched, teeth clenched, and pupils dilated. 

Result.— Death, 

I' ■:- ■■ortem and Analysis. — Stomach was congested in spots, and the mucous membrane softened; 
lungs engorged ; red spots about the duodenum. 

CASE 16.—" Dublin Medical Press," June 25, 1856 (Dr. Geoghegan). Male : jet. 26. 5 grains. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In fifteen minutes. 

Result. — Death in twenty to twenty-five minutes. 

Post- mortem and Analysis. — Lungs congested ; heart contracted, and containing a little dark fluid 
blood ; mucous membrane of stomach softened. 

CASE 17.— "Lancet," June 8, 1S61, p. 571 (Mr. Lawrence). Female: at. 30. Probably taken in solu- 
tion. Dose (?). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — (?) 

Symptoms. — Tetanic spasms. 

Treatment.— (?) 

Result.— Death in about three-quarters of an hour. 

CASE 18.—" Lancet," November 16, 1861, p. 4S0 (Mr. Tarleton). Male : aet. 12. 3 grains taken in 
pill which had been made eight months, and was very hard. 
Time of Symptoms commencing. — Three hours. 
Symptoms. — Usual symptoms ; conscious and sensible to the last. 
Treatment. — Chloroform and stomach-pump. 
Result.— Death in three hours and ten minutes. 

CASE 19.— "Ann. d'Hygi&ne," 1861, vol. i, p. 133. Male: St. 1%. % of a grain. 
Result. — Death in half an hour. 

CASE 20.— "Lancet," July 26, 1856, p. 117 (Dr. Martyn). Female: a?t. 45. % of a grain. 
Time of Symptoms commencing. — Shortly. 
Symptoms. — As usual. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 21.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence." Male: adult. J^of a grain taken at intervals. 
Result.— Recovery. 



CASE 22.— " Lancet," August 17, 1861, p. 169 (Dr. Powell). Female: set. 28. 2-3 grains as rat poison. 
Symptoms. — Ordinary symptoms. 

Treatment.— Chloroform for three hours, then emetics. 
Result. — Recovery after some weeks. 

CASE 23.—" Lancet," January 10, 1863, vol. i, p. 54 (Dr. Ansell). Female : at. 20. 4 grains. 
Symptoms. — Severe paroxysms; opisthotonos. 
Treatment. — Only albumen given. 
Result. — Recovery in seven hours. 

CASE 24.— "Medical Gazette," vol. xli, p. 305. 7 grains. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 25.— Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 408 (case of M. Merghelynk). 7J^ grains. 
Result. — Death in fifteen minutes. 

CASE 26.— Taylor's " Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 408 (case of Madame Merghelynk). 1% 
Result. — Death in ten minutes. 

CASE 27.—" Lancet," May 30, 1857, p. 551 (Mr. Wilkins). Male : ait. 23. 3 grains. 

Symptoms. — Tetanic convulsions; opisthotonos; feet inverted; consciousness perfect to the end. 

Treat merit. — Emetics. 

Result. — Death in six hours and a half. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Body very rigid ; fingers contracted ; brain and membranes congested ; 
right side of heart full of dark fluid blood ; lungs congest d; no poison found. 

CASE 2S. — " Medical Times and Gazette," November, 1S57. Female : set. 17. 3j of Butler's vermin- 

Result. — Death in one hour. 

CASE 29.— "Edinburgh Monthly Journal," 1859, vol. ii, p. 507. Male. Packet of vermin-killer. 
Quantity = 3 grains of strychnia. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 30. — Taylor's " Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 414. Male: set. 43. 5 grains. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Fifteen miuutes. 

Result.— Death in thirty minutes. 

CASE 31. — " American Journal of Medical Science," October, 1864, p. 399, Female. 6 grains. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Three minutes. 

Resuit — Death in thirty minutes. 

CASE 32. — " Wormley on Poisons," p. 538. Male. 5 grains. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — One hour and three-quarters. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 33. — "American Journal of Medical Science," April, 1845, p. 562. 7 grains taken in two 
doses, at five hours' interval. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Two hours and a half. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 34. — "American Journal of Medical Science," January, 1S63, p. 2-59. Male. 8 to 10 grains of 
nitrate of strychnia taken at one time, and afterwards 12 grains. 

Treatment. — Cranberry soup was taken before the poison ; the first dose was taken in bitter-almond 
water, and after the last dose 10 grains of acetate of morphia were swallowed. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 35.— Taylor's "Medical Jurisprudence," vol. i, p. 781. 10 grains. 

Result. — Death in ten minutes. 

CASE 36— "American Journal of Medical Science," April, 1854, p. 537. Male. 1% grains of 
stry. Iiuia. with the same quantity of nux vomica. 

Result. — Death immediate. 

CASE 37.— "American Journal of Medical Science," October, 1861, p. 409. 6 grains. 

Result.— Death in six hours. 

CASE 38. — "American Journal of Medical Science," October, 1S62, p.562. Female: set. 26, % grain. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Ten minutes. 

Result. — Recovery in six weeks. 

CASE 39.— Pereira's 'Materia Medica." Female. 2 to 3 grains. 

Result.— Death in two hours. 

CASE 40. — 'British and Foreign Medico-Chirurgical Review," April, 1857, p. 502. Male. 10 grains. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Fifteen miuutes. 

Symptoms. — Vomiting occurred very early. Symptoms as usual. 

J: t •'■ — Recovery in one week. 

CASE 41.— "Lancet," May 17, 1873, p. 698 (Dr. Dickinson). Female: aet. 16. Gibson's vermin-killer. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — A few minutes. 

Treatment.— Hypodermic injection of 3iss. of chloral hydrate. 

Result.— Recovery. 

i ASE 42.— "Laucet," October 11,1873, p. 533. Male: a?t. 37. About 1 grain. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Five minutes. 

Result. — Death in one hour. 


I USE 43.— "Lancet," January 13, 1872, p. 43. Male adult (rat-poison). = 1 grain of strychnia. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Twenty minutes. 

Symptoms. — Treatment adopted before the symptoms set in. 

Treatment.— 3ss. liuct. opii. 

Result. — R eco ve ry . 

CASE 44.— "Lancet,'* December 23, 1871, p. 907 {Mr. Beatty). Female: set. 22. Packet of Battle's 
vermin-killer, then 3'j of laudanum, and then 3ss. of red precipitate. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Thirty minutes. 

Sympivms.—Sone of the ordinary strychnia symptoms occurred; those of opium-poisoning set in 
after thirty minutes. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 45.— " Lancet," December 23, 1871, p. 907 (Mr. Beatty). Female: set. 17; pregnant. Battle's 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Very soon. 

Symptoms.— Opisthotonos. 

Treatment. — Tincture of opium. 

Result.— Reco ve ry . 

CASE 46.— "Medical Times and Gazette," May 25, 1861, p. 561 (Mr. Thornton). Female. 3 or 4 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Very soon. 

Symptoms. — Violent convulsions occurring every twenty minutes; no pain. 

Treatment. — Emetics and chloroform. 

Result. — Rec o ve ry . 

CASE 47.—" Lancet," July 10, 1S52, p. 33 (Dr. Cooper Forster). Male: set. 52. About 1 grain. 

Time, of Symptoms commencing. — In ten minutes. 

Symptoms. — Tetanic convulsions ; opisthotonos ; a paroxysm every six minutes, lasting two m inutes. 

Treatment. — Em e t ics . 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 48.—" Lancet," June 9, 18-55, p. 596 (Mr. Hendry), Male: at. 30. 3ij of Butler's rerniin-killer. 

Symptoms. — Tetanic convulsions; opisthotonos. 

Treatment.— Emetics and stomach-pump, but these were not used for one hour and a half. 

Result, — Recovery. 

CASE 49.— "Lancet," April 19, 1856, p. 42S (Dr.Ogston). Male : set. 28. A packet of Marsden's ver- 
min and insect killer = % of a grain of strychnia. 

Time of Symptoms commencing.— Almost immediately. 

Treatment. — No treatment. 

Result.— Death. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Pupils dilated ; back part of scalp loaded with blood : brain and mem- 
branes natural ; a quantity of blood in the spinal canal ; blood on both sides of heart ; lungs much 
congested; stomach and duodenum congested ; strychnia discovered. 

CASE 50.— Case of Dove, vide " Lancet," March 15 and 22, 1S56, pp. 292-321. 

CASE 51.— "Lancet," September 13, 1856, p. 302 (Dr. Jones, Jersey). Female: set. 22. ]4 a grain. 

Time of Symptoms commencing.— In twenty minutes. 

Symptoms. — Tetanic convulsions, which at one time left, but returned ; opisthotonos. 

Treatment. — Scarcely any. 

Result. — Death in five hours. 

Post-nwrtem and Analysis. — Spine arched ; fingers and jaw firmly clenched ; much blood escaped on 
opening the skull and spinal cord; stomach natural; each ventricle of heart contained a clot of 
dark semi-fluid blood. 

CASE 52.—" Lancet," July 26, 1856, p. 107 (Mr. Craster). Female. % of a grain in three pills, with 
half an hour's interval between each. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Began after taking second pill. 

Symptom*. — Violent convulsions ; tetanus. 

Treatment.— Emetics. 

Result. — Recovery in five hours. 

CASE 53.—" Lancet," Oct. 10, 1857, p. 361 (Mr. Hazell). Female. Over 3 grains. 

Result.— Death. 

Prjst-mortem and A natysis.— Post-mortem in fifty-eight hours; fingers and jaws fixed; lungs con- 
gested; heart large, full of blood ; on the right side stomach natural ; brain congested at the base. 

CASE 54.— "Lancet," July 13, 1867, pp. 41 and 118 (Mr. Folker). Male adult. 3 grains of ver- 

lime of Symptoms commencing. — In three-quarters of an hour. 

Symptoms.— Only two minutes' interval between spasms; great thirst; spasms ceased in twelve 
hours: intellect clear. 

Treatment.— Kept under the influence of chloroform. Tincture of aconite given. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 55.— " Lancet," Jan. 17, 1846, p. 73 (Dr. Watson). Female: set. 13. % of grain in three pills. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In twenty minutes. 

Symptoms. — Opisthotonos; mind clear; convulsions ceased suddenly ; pupils dilated. 


Treatment. — Emetics; bleeding; stomach-pump; galvanism. 

Result. — Death in about one hour. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Post-mortem in forty-four hours. Brain and membranes natural; 
spinal cord healthy, but the membranes congested ; lungs congested ; stomach normal. 

CASE 56. — "Transactions of Pennsylvania Medical Society ;" " Berlin Journal," Dec. 15, 1870 (Dr. 
Gobrecht). Male: set. 20. Sj of chloroform and 15 grains of strychnia. 

Symptom*. — Profoundly comatose, but no strychnia symptoms. 

Treatment. — Electricity. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 57.— " Medical Times and Gazette," March 11, 1871, p. 283 (Dr. Atlee). Male: set. 60. 20 
grains in solution taken on a full stomach. 

Symptoms.— "Violent tetanus. 

Treatment. — Chloroform and emetics. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 58.—" Medical Times and Gazette," Oct. 23, 1869, p. 491 (Dr. Cameron). Female : set. 17. A 3d. 
packet of Butler's vermin-killer = % of a grain of strychnia. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — After two hours. 

Symptoms. — Violent spasms. 

Treatment. — Stomach-pump ; chloroform. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 59.— "Medical Times and Gazette," May 9, 1868, p. 499 (Mr. McCarthy). Female: set. 4. Pow- 
der for destroying mice. 

Tim? of Symptoms commencing. — Very soon. 

Symptom*.— Opisthotonos ; pupils dilated. 

Treatment. — Chloroform administered for one hour and a half. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 60.—" Medical Times and Gazette," June 27, 1868, p. 691 (Mr. Phelps). Female : set. 14. Pen- 
nyworth of strychnia in a bottle of ginger-beer = about 1 grain. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Very soon. 

Symptoms.— Opisthotonos. 

Treatment.— Chloroform ; whilst under its influence, the stomach-pump was used. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 61.— "Medical Times and Gazette," July 6,1867, p. 5 (Dr. Hunter). Female: set. 70. 94 
drops of liquor strychnia taken during forty-two hours = ^ of a grain. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In live minutes after the last dose = % grain. 

Symptoms. — No opisthotonos occurred, but violent convulsive twitchings ; mind clear. 

Result.— Death. 

CASE 62.—" Medical Times and Gazette," March 8, 1S62, p. 250 (Dr. Wilmot). Female : set. 18. A 
packet of vermin-killer. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — About fifteen minutes. 

Result.— Death in thirty-five minutes. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Blood dark and fluid; right side of heart full of blood ; stomach natural ; 
blue color of the vermin-killer not apparent, explained by her having previously eaten oranges. 

CASE 63.— "British Medical Journal," June 22, 1872, p. 660 (Rev.S. Haughton.M.D.). Male: set. 
19. Strychnia put into an egg. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — (?) 

Symptoms. — Convulsions and opisthotonos. 

Treatment.— One-drop doses of nicotin given every half an hour in whisky punch. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 64.—" British Medical Journal," Sept. 18, 1S69, p. 322 (Mr. Heward). Female : at. 56. Packet 
of Battle's vermin-killer = about 8 grains of strychnia. 

Symptoms. — No vomiting. 

Result.— Death in twenty minutes. 

Post-mortem ami Analysis. — Signs of tetanic convulsions; stomach congested and corrugated; 
bladder empty and hard ; heart contracted and empty. 

CASE 65.—" New York Medical Record," March 1, 1867. 4 grains. 

Sympto ms- — Vom i t in g. 

Treatment. — Kept under chloroform for seven hours. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 66.— " British Medical Journal," Sept. 21, 1S67, p. 250 (Dr. Henry Thompson). Female: a:t. 
49. One of Battle's 6tf. packets of vermin-killer. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Immediate hot burning taste, and twitchings. 

Symptoms. — Insensible in half an hour ; and remained so for six or eight hours. 

Treatment. — Conium and camphor were administered. 

Result.— Recovery in one month. 

CASE 67.— "British Medical Journal," Dec. 30, 1871, p. 754 (Dr. Roberts). Vermin-killer. 

Result.— Found dead. 

Post-mortem and Analysis.— Expression of face calm, and not distorted, and the bedclothes were 
found tucked in. 


■ \<i; 68.— "British Medical Journal." May 20. 1885, p, 609 (Mr. Rogeift}. Female: art. 25. Barber's 
magic vermin-tiller powders [2.8 gra. strychnia in 28 graius of powder). 
Symptoms. — Ordinary symptoms. 
TVeonnant— Stomach-pump. 

Result. — Death in two hours. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Rigidity of muscle? found to have disappeared after nine hours; brain 
and spinal cord healthy ; langs very congested ; both sides of heart empty ; blood very fluid. 

CASE 69.— "Edinburgh Medical Journal," April, 1875, p. 907 (Dr. Ogil vie Will). Male: at. 18. Not 
less than 4 grains of strychnia. 

Tims of Symptoms commencing. — A few minutes. 

Symptoms. — As usual. 

Treatment. — Chloral hydrate and emetics given. 

Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 70.—" Edinburgh Medical Journal." St-pt., 1873 (Mr. Buckley). Male. 
fraaanant — Chloroform and 1% groins of atropia injected. 
Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 71.— "Medical Times and Gazette," July 20, 1861, p. 67 (Dr. Schuler). Male: aet. 50. One- 
twelfth of a grain applied to Punctuni lachrymale. 
Time of Symptoms commencing. — Three minutes. 
Symptoms. — Tetanus; urine and faeces evacuated. 
Result. — Rec o ve ry . 

CASE 72— "Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 15, 1860, p. 596 (Dr. Part). Female: aet. 31. A 3d. 
paper of Battle's vermin-killer = about 3 grains. 
Time of Symptoms commencing. — ? i 

Symptoms. — Opisthotonos; violent tetanic convulsions. 
Treat men/.— Emetics and afterwards Indian hemp and chloric ether. 
Result. — Recovery. 

CASE 73— "Medical Times and Gazette," Oct. 30, 1858, p. 443 (Dr. Ogilvie). Male: aet. 21. 4 
grains of strychnia, taken probably in coffee. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — One hour. 

Symptoms. — Tetanic seizures. 

Treatment. — Bleeding and emetics. 

Result.— Death in seventy minutes. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Venous congestion of the brain; heart large and empty, lungs very 
congested ; stomach and intestines normal. 

CASE 74.—" Medical Times and Gazette," Jan. 2, 1855, p. 19, from " Boston Journal." Male: set. 15. 
2 grains of strychnia in powder. 
Time of Symptoms commencing.— <?) 
Symptoms. — Violent symptoms. 

Treatment. — Chloroform administered for four hours and a half. 
Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 75.— "Medical Times and Gazette," June 12,1858, p. 600 (Dr. O'Reilly). Male. 6 grains 
taken in beer. 
Symptoms. — Violent tetanic symptoms. 

Treatment.— Nicotin given in the form of infusion of tobacco (3x of dried tobacco leaves). 
Result. — Reco ve ry. 

CASE 76.—" Medical Times and Gazette," June 14, 1S56, p. 609 (Dr. Kirk). Male. 6 grains. 
Treatment. — Stomach-pump; friction over spine with hot turpentine. 
Result. — Recovery. 


CASE 77.—" Ann. d'Hygiene," 1861, vol. ii, p. 431. Mate. 300 grains (powder). 
Time of Symptoms commencing. — Two hours. 
Symptoms.— Convulsions. 
Result.— Death. 

CASE 78.— Christison, p. 901. Female: aged. 3 grains of extract. 
Result. — Death in three days. 

CASE 79.—" Christison," p. 901. 30 grains (powder). 
Result.— Death. 

CASE 80.— "Lancet," Dec. 15, 1849 (Mr. TliflT). Female: art. 23. 5ij (powder). 

Time ->f Symptoms commencing. — Very shortly. 

Symptoms. — Dilated pupils; tetanic convulsions every two minutes. 

Treatment. — Emetics and stomach-pump. 

Result.— Recovery. 


CASE 81. — " London Medical Repository," vol. xix, p. 448, and Worm ley, p. 530. Female. Siij 

7V»i« of Symptoms commencing. — Forty minutes. 

Result. — Death in one hour. 

CASE 82.— "New York Medical Journal," vol. xxx, p. 448, and Wormley, p. 531. Female. A 
tablespoon ful (powder). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Instantly. 

Remit. — Recovery in six hours. 

CASE 83.— Orfila, "Toxicologic," vol. ii, p. 605. Male. Quantity (?). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Immediately. 

Result. — Death on fourth day. 

CASE 84.— " Lancet," Dec. 28, 1839, p. 500 (Dr. R. D. Thomson). Female: Get. 18. Quantity (?). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Very soon. 

Result. — Death in two hours. 

CASE 85.— "Lancet," Oct. 22, 1853, p. 385 (Dr. Hassall). Male : set. 20. Siss. (powder). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Within ten minutes. 

Symptoms. — In three-quarters of an hour had tetanic convulsions ; opisthotonos. 

Treatment. — Emetics and stomach-pump. 

Result. — Recovery in two days. 

CASE 86.— "Lancet," May 17, 1856, p. 551. Female : set. 18. 5ss. (powder). 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Very soon. 

Symptoms. — Tetanus, and previously, complete paralysis of lower extremities ; intellect clear. 

Treatment. — Emetics. 

Result. — Death in seven hours. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Stomach and gullet much inflamed. 

CASE 87.— " Lancet," May 17, 1856, p. 551. Female. Nux vomica and strychnia. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — In one-quarter of an hour. 

Result. — Death in one hour and a half. 

CASE 88.— "Medical Times and Gazette," Jan. 16, 1858, p. 69 (Mr. Ley). (1) Male: adult; (2) 
Female : adult. Five grains of extract taken by each in a pill. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Forty minutes. 

Symptoms. — Violent spasms and tetanus ; complained of being " fixed " to the chairs; intellects of 
both were clear. 

Treatment. — Emetics. 

Result.— Recovery. 

CASE 89.—" Medical Times and Gazette," Feb. 9, 1856, p. 148 (Mr. Davies). Female : cet. 16. Sss. 

Time of Symptoms commencing. — Walked two miles after taking it. Symptoms commenced in one 
hoir and a half. 

Symptoms. — Violent tetanic symptoms. 

Treatment. — Tannin ; sulphate of copper ; cold effusion. 

Result. — Death in three hours and a half. 

Post-mortem and Analysis. — Brain soft and congested ; heart almost empty ; lungs congested ; stom- 
ach slightly congested towards pyloric end. 

See also the following additional cases of Strychnia Poisoning : 

"Medical Times and Gazette," Dec. 31, 1864, p. 702 (ease of Demine poisoning his patient Trumpy). 
" " Aug. 14,1858, p. 179 (Butler's vermin-killer. Death). 

" " March 15, 1856, pp. 274 and 285 (case of Dove). 

"British Medical Journal," May 31, 1862, p. 573 (Death from strychnia applied to puncta lachry- 

" Medical Times," Aug. 21, 1847, p. 512 (one-quarter to half a grain. Death in fourteen to twenty 
" British Medical Journal," Jan. 6, 1866, p. 29 (poisoning by Hunter's infallible vermin-killer).